Sunday, August 30, 2015

Nighthawks in US Culture

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper:  The work by American realist artist Edward Hopper was done in early 1942, and was initially categorized as one of many of the works Hopper did that emphasized solitude, if not alienation.  But the sparseness of the painting later gave rise to questions about who might linger in the shadows, and how safe was it to be near the man with his back turned, at 3 a.m.  Hopper himself suggested that the work was as much about a quiet moment as it was alone in a world of shadows and possible danger. His work coming out in the dark years of World War II might not have been a direct response to the war and the domestic response to both Japan and German acts of war and the American response, but it surely captures the unsettled feelings that were flying about at the time.

There are many pieces of homage art that have resulted from the Nighthawks work.  It stands as a moment of time, capturing a perfect image and vision of the era.  It remains in our psyche.

IN COMICS  you can find it (all works copyright their respective owners, click image in greater detail.):

MUSIC: In music there are songs that have referenced the diner and painting,  and there are  album covers that specifically affect a look to homage the diner.

Tom Waits:  "Nighthawks at the Diner" 1975

Nighthawks at the Diner Video


 Red and Kitty Foreman visited the diner on the period comedy show That '70s Show

Nighthawks influenced the look of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner; Scott said "I was constantly waving a reproduction of this painting under the noses of the production team to illustrate the look and mood I was after"

ARCHITECTURE: And while this is just a taste of the many homage works there have been, upon the streets there is even architecture that pays homage to the great painting, and perhaps the artist... The Flat Iron

TWO EDWARD HOPPER paintings posted for the hell of it.


And lastly, at the turn of the century we had a party in that diner. 

"It’s (the lack of communication between the people in his paintings, ed.) probably a reflection of my own, if I may say, loneliness. I don’t know. It could be the whole human condition." 

Edward Hopper

I am often asked why bother reading history, or reading ABOUT art, or about anything.  Why not just like things for what they are, and move on.  And I tell people straight out, anyone can live without knowing history, knowing about things or knowing why things are important.  It might make historians sad, or artists upset that I am not saying their work is supposedly not important.  But I am not saying that.  A human body exists, uses chemicals inside, functions within its system, without ever needing the user to know why.  Eat, poop, pee, sleep.  That system is relatively stable.

But just as a person doesn't want to eat chicken broth for every meal, the human mind has a desire to be fed.  And by feeding the mind, the personal experience and desire to become more is satisfied, and, triggers a desire to build from that.   So, as long it doesn't matter, think Abe Lincoln was famous for logs, go a lifetime thinking the United Kingdom is off the coast of Florida, or that France is a state of California, or have more chicken broth.  You have a choice to feed your mind as well as your body.

Today's subject is the artistic homage, which is a form of art that is done to demonstrate how great one piece of art is, by showing it as a part of the spirit and form of another.  This is a practice that is done, in general, to show appreciation, but could, I suppose, be used to show how the homaged piece is viewed by society/culture.

Unless the viewer/listener/reader is familiar with the source the homage is lost upon them, unless the creative work doing the homage points it out.   And, that is where the need to know more than the basics comes in, because if you simply catch a glimpse, and understand, you add another layer of quality and interest to the work at hand.  Parody, Satire and Homage are all solidly based upon an understanding of the source material.  If you do not understand the thing being referenced, you lose out on enjoyment, and perhaps a greater knowledge of the world.

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