Carter Foster: He’s staring at you, so he takes on your gaze in a very direct way.
Narrator: Curator Carter Foster describes this self-portrait by Edward Hopper.
Carter Foster: But he’s also not perfectly neat. I mean, it’s interesting the way the collar sort of slightly curls up. I would say he looks rumpled—and Hopper was known for actually being a good dresser. And when you see pictures of him he’s often wearing a beautiful suit, so I think he knew how to turn himself out. But there’s a somewhat casual air to this.
He puts himself in an interior, but it’s a somewhat vague interior. It looks almost like a hallway. You’ve got this blank, grayish white wall behind him that serves as a very nice framing element.
The lack of information he gives you about the interior is in some ways so typical, because he gives you enough ambiguity to think “well, where is he, exactly?” He often used interior spaces to symbolize the interior of the self. And if you think about him presenting himself against this essentially blank white background, well you could read that as a canvas, which is what every painter starts with.