ADAMWEINBERG: Poet Mark Strand published a book about Edward Hopper’s paintings, entitled simply, Hopper. In it, Strand describes Hopper’s paintings. This is what he wrote about A Woman in the Sun from 1961. Mark Strand.
MARKSTRAND: The woman stands and smokes a cigarette on a carpet of light beside an unmade bed in. She appears thoughtful. The light coats the front of her. And the parts of her it does not touch fall abruptly into shadow. There is no softening, no gradual rounding of her form. Rather, a jagged edge of light lingers on her sinewy, masculine body. What Hopper had to do as an illustrator—idealize the figure—he chose not to do as a painter. His women are no more beautiful than the paintings themselves. The woman in A Woman in the Sun may not fit anyone’s notion of beauty, but she is nevertheless magnificently present, charging the room with a gloomy, wistful eros. Obviously enjoying a moment of introspection, she stands, with her legs slightly apart, availing herself of the sun’s warmth and the refreshment of a breeze that comes in the window. One feels that the first she was moved to do upon waking was to appease the flesh, but one also feels that her momentary indulgence is compensatory. That she is not a woman who padded about in her “jammies” and slippers before nodding off is obvious. The high-heeled pumps beside the bed suggest that she retired with haste. It is pointless, however, to speculate further on what her present pensiveness has to do with or what preceded her falling to sleep. Her past, like the back of her body, is left in the shadow.
Audio Guide Stop: Elizabeth Thompson Colleary on Edward Hopper’s A Woman in the Sun, 1961