According to a recent poll by Harvard’s Institute of Politics, nearly half of millennials in the United States believe the American dream is dead. I don’t know if they’re right; I suppose it depends on how one defines the “American dream” (and death, for that matter). But the fact is that a host of factors — inequality, unemployment, globalization — is forcing millions of young people to reckon with an uncomfortable truth: A land of opportunity for all inevitably will be a land of disappointment for some.
Few artists have conveyed this reality as well as Edward Hopper. To view the realist painter’s works is to encounter America — not just in gas stations and motel rooms, but also in the anxious faces of his world-weary subjects.
Windows feature in so many of Hopper’s paintings, functioning as portals through which his subjects gaze out into the wider world. The window gazers almost always face the sun, and oftentimes a rising one. There is a whiff of that hopeful American spirit: that desire to move on and move up, to start fresh in a new city. You can almost hear the Gipper saying, “It’s morning in America.”
And yet so many of Hopper’s subjects look out on the world with worry. Continue reading “How To Make America Great Again: Lessons from Edward Hopper”