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Fear of the city 1882–1967: Edward Hopper and the discourse of anti-urbanism

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Abstract:

This paper traces the extent to which some of the major cityscape representations of the American 'Realist' painter, Edward Hopper, have contributed to the production and articulation of the discourse of anti-urbanism in American culture. Following an introductory background to this discourse, the paper discusses the development of Realism in American art, and how the urban representations that emerged were a response to the rapidly changing, early twentieth-century American city. A brief biographical account of Edward Hopper is presented to explore the intertextual influences behind his anti-urban sentiments, and how these translated into the unique form of Realism for which Hopper is renowned. This sets the stage for a reading of four key Hopper works that are suggestive of the anti-urban discourse: Night Shadows, Nighthawks, Approaching a City and Sunday. The powers of representation and the artist's popularity have fed into the discourse of anti-urbanism - a discourse that has a material effect on urban life in America.

Keywords: ANTI-URBANISM; CITYSCAPE; DISCOURSE; EDWARD HOPPER; REPRESENTATION; WORDS

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14649360220133916

Publication date: June 1, 2002

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