“What Hopper reflects is something quite different, the unheroic loneliness of everyday people, people like you and me: ushers, secretaries, apartment dwellers. The Hemingway hero, another paragon of American individualism, is in control of his apartness. Hopper’s people are not. It’s imposed on them by the circumstances of life. Their plight reminds us that individualism without ruggedness simply means being alone – alone even when, as in Hopper’s “Room in New York,” someone else is there.

“E pluribus unum,” one out of many, bespeaks a citizenry coming together, uniting into something larger. What haunts the American imagination is the possibility of one lost among many, the individual trapped in his or her own solitude. American society, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in “Democracy in America,” “throws [the individual] back forever upon himself alone and threatens in the end to confine him entirely within the solitude of his own heart.” What’s most American about Hopper is his bearing witness to that threat.”

Mark Feeney
Quoted on
The Exhibitionist