The only painting in which Edward Hopper depicts a cinema screen, New York Movie (1939) is one of the artist’s most compelling and spatially complex theater pictures. This work depicts three distinct features within the movie house: the screen, the moviegoers watching it, and the usher tasked with watching them. The space itself is an amalgam of hoppers on-site research from four New York theaters: the Globe, Palace, Republic, and Strand. Hopper’s wife, Jo, who posed for both the usher and the audience members, noted Edward’s struggle in bringing this painting together: “it is such a difficult subject…Not to be there as he looks – not even taken from any one theater – bits from all of them.” Examples from the 53 extant sketches show both the design flourishes characteristic to each theater, as well as certain architectural typologies common to all.
Photographed as part of the Exhibit Hopper’s New York on View at the Whitney Museum, New York City, Through March 5th, 2023.