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Image of Manhattan Bridge Loop

Edward Hopper , (Jul 22, 1882–May 15, 1967)

Manhattan Bridge Loop

1928
35 in. x 60 in. (88.9 cm x 152.4 cm)

Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Gift of Stephen C. Clark, Esq.
Accession Number: 1932.17
Current Location: Loan

Commentary

In his powerful and evocative painting, Manhattan Bridge Loop, Edward Hopper has frozen this transportation nexus of bridge, streets, railways, and crowded tenements in lower Manhattan in an eerie stillness and bathed it with cold crystalline light. A solitary figure, trudging along under the shadow of the blank embankment, suggests the human alienation possible within the urban life.

In 1940, when the Addison organized an exhibition called The Architecture of a Painting: Edward Hopper’s Manhattan Bridge Loop, the museum’s director elicited a rare and illuminating statement from Hopper about his artistic intentions. Hopper wrote, “My aim in painting is always, using nature as the medium, to try to project the subject as it appears when I like it most; when the facts are given unity by my interest and prejudices.” Relying on memory of the scene and armed with “a few small black and white sketches made from the fact” [two of which are exhibited here], Hopper composed the painting. “The very long horizontal shape of this picture . . . is an effort to give the sensation of great lateral extent. Carrying the main horizontal lines of the design with little interruption to the edges of the picture is to enforce this idea and to make one conscious of the spaces and elements beyond the limits of the scene itself.”

Comparisons between the two preparatory drawings and the final give vivid evidence of the careful ways in which Hopper reordered the elements of the scene to realize his artistic goal.

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