Thursday, October 25, 2007


Edward Hopper loved to ride the elevated train through the city at night. As the apartment buildings raced by in the dark, he would catch flashes of unearned intimacy: lonely people staring at the walls... desperate couples... people whose privacy was protected only by their anonymity.

Sometimes I think that artists, like philosophers, are keyhole peepers at heart. They are observers, once-removed from the primacy of experience by the burden of consciousness.

If Hopper lived today, he might get the same glimpses of humanity from Google. He could access an endless supply of private moments, intimate photographs, agonizing diary entries and personal confessions, efficiently organized and served up with the speed of an electrical pulse. He could download and catalogue them without ever leaving his chair.

But art calls for a little less information and a little more rumination. Or, as Carl Sandburg said, poetry is "the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during that moment." Hopper's fleeting views from the train left him plenty of time afterward for slow meditation.

Perhaps that is how he was able to transform a glimpse of a naked human into a painting of naked humankind.


Office Worker said...

I just started reading, but I'm really enjoying your posts and choice of artwork.

Mike Dutton said...

You hit it on the head exactly what it is I love most about Hopper, only you've laid it down so eloquently in ways that I could not do. Thank you David!

David Apatoff said...

Welcome, office worker, and thanks!

Mike, I love to find people out there who share my love for these images. Thanks for writing.

Sensational Android said...

hi...just hit to ur blog by chance...and i think god, for once, to have seen ur blog. simply amazing..

Anonymous said...

As always, an intimate and insightful interpretation of great art. Apare and succinct. Good work Mr D.

Anonymous said...


RJ said...

David-- I discovered your blog a few weeks ago, and have really been enjoying going back through a number of your previous posts. I really like the way that you juxtapose illustration and fine art. I was particularly interested in your comparison of Bernie Fuchs to abstract painters Kline, Motherwell, et al.

This post on Hopper is also very strong-- you quickly get to the essence of these paintings in a way that I have not often seen.

I have recently started an art blog, so I am aware of the time, effort, and thought that you put into your blog. Thank you for sharing this with us!

As a new blogger, I don't have a lot of readers yet, so I hope you don't mind if I give my art blog a plug and encourage you and your readers to stop by for a visit:

Topics include The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, de Kooning, a supposed child prodigy, postmodern art, non-art, artspeak, etc, as well as some of my own work (illustration and other).

Again, thank you for your excellent and insightful work!


Mats Halldin said...

Lovely post as always,
For once I've seen these images before (of course), but seeing them again with your interpretation of them was like getting a letter from an old friend - thank you.

When I'm too tired to do anything else, I often watch Blogger Play, a speedy, infinite maelstrom of glimpses into peoples lives which is just like a view from Hopper's elevated train - but without the rumination.

/ Mats

Anonymous said...

Mats Halldin, thank you for the link to Blogger play. What a funfunfun thing to do! catherine

Anonymous said...

Just saw the DC exhibit. WOW! Ain't nothing like the real thing! I know everyone likes to focus on the social commentary implicit in Hopper's paintings, but I was totally fascinated by his light, color and form... amazing.

Kacie said...

David - I really enjoyed reading your blog. While I've always been involved in the arts of music, writing, theatre, and dance, I am just now getting into visual art (painting and sculpture.) Thank you for sharing!

I just created a blog called The Creative Melting Pot in which I hope to give artists of all kinds a place to show off their original works, be it paintings, sketches, photography, poetry, music, whatever. I'm hoping to dedicate each post to an artist who just wants to share what he/she loves doing. I hope that I will be able to some day have the impact that your blog has had.

Thanks again for sharing.
- Kacie

David Apatoff said...

Thanks, rj and kacie. I will enjoy following your blogs!

Mats, cloud minus and anonymous, I appreciate the comments. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Great blog, great texts!

M said...

You have such a lovely blog, I love to hear you speak.

Fonseca said...

Hey, congratulations for your blog!!

I like so very much illustration and came here usually. It´s wonderful!


Simon Allard said...

I was contemplating why Hopper's paintings still resonate when I stumbled across your blog which is beautiful in it's own right.

Your thoughts have enriched my own ruminations which currently dwell around the nobility of the human spirit and the sense that something is missing from modern life.

Kevin said...

I came across your blog this evening and I wanted to extend my compliments on a job well done.

Butterfly Painter said...

you sum up exactly what i love about Hopper.....
i love Hopper's quote..."Sometimes I think that artists, like philosophers, are keyhole peepers at heart. They are observers, once-removed from the primacy of experience by the burden of consciousness."
job well done

Ana said...

I just found your blog and I'm amazed!
I will put it at my blog list and I will copy this post, as is, with credits for you , of course.
If you have any problem with that please tell me.
Thank you very much.

Ana said...

Hi David,
I published a post about Hopper and put the format you did and part of your text.
Thank you.
Ana Hichcliffe

Rodger Kingston said...

David, your site is terrific. I found it searching for Edward Hopper offerings. I very much like what you had to say about the voyeuristic aspect of many of his paintings.

I'm a photographer, and suspect that all photographers are voyeurs, snooping through the little windows on the backs of our cameras at the world.

I'm working on a book titled "Searching for Edward Hopper," a look back through 40 years of my own images for the influence Hopper has had on my photographic vision.

If you like, you can see the book's image sequence and Introduction on my web site at in the "Featured Gallery." I'd love to hear from you (my email address is at the bottom of the Introduction).

I see that the last comment was left in 2010; I hope you are still checking them out.