Shop art print and framed art Nighthawks by Edward Hopper

The artwork
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 Cushion Lampshade Mural
Subjects : Genre scenes, Urban
Keywords : 1940s, Capricorn, North America, USA, United States, bar, couple, evening, night, sign of the zodiac, silence
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Nighthawks is also available as...

 Cushion Lampshade Mural
The artwork


Edward Hopper's Nighthawks: a work emblematic of urban loneliness

Edward Hopper's Nighthawks is undoubtedly one of the American artist's most famous works. Housed at the Art Institute of Chicago, this masterful work depicts a night scene in a New York café, highlighting the notions of anonymity and solitude that permeate modern urban life.

A timeless and universal night scene

Painted in 1942, Nighthawks depicts four figures seated in a neon-lit café, while the surrounding city seems plunged into darkness. One of the most striking elements of the painting is the complete lack of communication between these individuals; each seems locked in his own bubble, suggesting the idea of confinement and isolation within the very heart of the urban crowd.


Also, although set in New York, the scene could take place in any major Western metropolis: the typically New York elements are deliberately absent, lending a universal scope to Hopper's point. Moreover, the temporal indeterminacy added to this absence of geographical specificity reinforces the timeless and universal character of the painting.

Edward Hopper's stylistic signature

Nighthawks is considered an emblematic work of Edward Hopper's own style. Indeed, the artist is renowned for his paintings depicting scenes of everyday American life, often tinged with melancholy and a certain solitude.

A subtle use of light and colour

In Nighthawks, the yellow-orange light emanating from the café contrasts sharply with the dark, cold tones that dominate the canvas. This chromatic opposition accentuates the characters' sense of isolation, as if they were prisoners of this warm, brightly lit place in the midst of a hostile environment.

In addition, Edward Hopper mastered lighting effects perfectly, playing with shadows and reflections to create an atmosphere that is both realistic and dreamlike.

A rigorous composition

The arrangement of elements in Nighthawks obeys a meticulous and balanced composition. The diagonal formed by the café counter forms a central axis around which the entire scene is structured. In addition, the vertical and horizontal lines of the windows, walls and signs contribute to the creation of a stable and orderly framework, reinforcing the idea of enclosure mentioned earlier.

The reception of Nighthawks and its influence in popular culture

As soon as it was produced in 1942, the painting Nighthawks aroused great interest among the public and art critics. Its originality and symbolic force quickly helped to make it an iconic work of twentieth-century American painting.

Nighthawks as a reflection of an era

The immediate success enjoyed by Nighthawks can be explained in part by the historical context in which it was created: in the midst of the Second World War, this depiction of urban loneliness and isolation echoes the social upheavals and uncertainties then sweeping across the United States. Many see this work as a poignant testimony to the concerns of the time.

The lasting influence of Nighthawks

Over the decades, Nighthawks has inspired numerous artists and become a veritable reference point in popular culture. His many diversions and tributes attest to the fascination he still exerts on people's minds today:

  • Cinema has drawn heavily on the nocturnal, melancholy atmosphere depicted by Hopper, particularly in films such as Ridley Scott's Blade Runner and David Lynch's Mulholland Drive.
  • In comics, the influence of Nighthawks is also perceptible, with authors such as Jacques Tardi or Daniel Clowes picking up on some of the painting's visual codes.
  • Finally, many musicians and groups have reappropriated this iconic work, reproducing its famous composition on their album covers or evoking its world in their songs.

At the end of the day, Edward Hopper's painting Nighthawks remains an inexhaustible source of inspiration for contemporary artists, testifying to its major place in the history of art and culture. His subtle, poetic exploration of urban solitude remains disturbingly relevant today, so perfectly does it reflect the questions and paradoxes of our modern societies.


This artwork is a painting from the modern period. It belongs to the naturalism styles, realism styles and cubism styles.


« Nighthawks » is kept at Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA.


The artist

Edward Hopper

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Edward Hopper

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