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22 February 2018Urban Noir: Edward Hopper's “Nighthawks”
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Urban Noir: Edward Hopper's “Nighthawks”
Kathy McLauchlan Thursday 22 February 2018

Edward Hopper's paintings of urban life are typically characterized by a sense of loneliness and alienation. The most celebrated example is Nighthawks, a work of 1942, which depicts three men and a woman gathered in a brightly illuminated restaurant in downtown New York. We are given few clues as to the identity of these people, whether they know each other or are in any way related. It is in fact the inexplicable quality of this scene which has made it so intriguing to generations of viewers, and has turned Nighthawks into one of the iconic images of 20th century urban life. This lecture considers the background to Hopper's masterpiece and offers possible reasons for its lasting fascination. 


Kathy McLauchlan graduated at Oxford University and the Courtauld Institute. In 2001 she completed a PhD thesis on French painters in Rome during the 19th century. She is a course director at the V&A and freelance lecturer specialising in 19th century art history. She has published catalogues and articles for the British Council and the Barbican Art Gallery and is currently head of the Visual Art Department, Morley College, London.