Where We Are Audio Guide Playlist
Narrator: All you’re looking at here is a block of brick storefronts with apartments above them. The title, Early Sunday Morning, may explain the emptiness of the street, but it can’t explain the emotional pull of the painting. Take a closer look.
When Edward Hopper made this image in 1930, he based it on a real street he knew—Seventh Avenue South in Greenwich Village. But he’s made it look like any main street in any small town anywhere in America. Notice the storefront windows. They have lettering on them, yet Hopper doesn’t let you make out what the letters say. Hopper is an artist of universals, not particulars; he doesn’t want to be that specific.
Now look up at the windows on the second floor. Begin at left. A yellow shade is drawn; another is half raised; further along, some of the windows are covered with darker window coverings; to the right, a few more have decorative curtains. Each is slightly different, hinting at a life being lived beyond our view. In this small detail, Hopper makes us acutely aware that the people are missing from the picture. As a result, the painting communicates a sense of loneliness.
At the upper right corner of the canvas, a small dark rectangle rises above the building—the suggestion of a skyscraper in the background. It doesn’t catch your eye at first, but once you notice it, the tall building changes the whole picture. A threat overshadows the otherwise quiet street. Sooner or later the juggernaut of commerce and technology will eradicate a small-town way of life.
Edward Hopper (1882–1967), Early Sunday Morning, 1930. Oil on canvas, 35 3/16 × 60 1/4 in. (89.4 × 153 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney 31.426. © Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper, licensed by the Whitney Museum of American Art. Digital image © Whitney Museum of American Art
- 700 Introduction to Where We Are
- 701 Jacob Lawrence, War Series, 1946-47
- 702 Georgia O'Keeffe, Music, Pink and Blue No. 2, 1918
- 702-2 Georgia O'Keeffe, Music, Pink and Blue No. 2, 1918
- 703 Marsden Hartley, Painting, Number 5, 1914–1915
- 710 Morris Louis, Tet, 1958
- 710-2 Morris Louis, Tet, 1958
- 711 Jay DeFeo, The Eyes, 1958
- 712 Barnett Newman, Day One, 1951-52
- 713 Joseph Stella, The Brooklyn Bridge: Variation on an Old Theme, 1939
- 721 Henry Koerner, Mirror of Life, 1946
- 721-2 Henry Koerner, Mirror of Life, 1946
- 722 Edward Hopper, New York Interior, 1921
- 723 James Castle, Drawings
- 730 Archibald Motley, Gettin' Religion, 1948
- 731 Arshile Gorky, The Artist and His Mother, 1926-c.1936
- 732 Thomas Hart Benton, Poker Night (from A Streetcar Named Desire), 1948
- 740 Charles Sheeler, River Rouge Plant, 1932
- 741 Elsie Driggs, Pittsburgh, 1927
- 742 Elizabeth Catlett, Prints
- 743 Frank Stella, Die Fahne hoch!, 1959
- 744 Charles Demuth, My Egypt, 1927
- 750 Jasper Johns, Three Flags, 1958
- 750-2 Jasper Johns, Three Flags, 1958
- 751 Isamu Noguchi, Humpty Dumpty, 1946
- 752 Edward Hopper, Early Sunday Morning, 1931
- 752-2 Edward Hopper, Early Sunday Morning, 1931