Where We Are

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Hear directly from artists and curators on selected works from Where We Are.

Painting by Edward Hopper. Painting of a woman in dress facing away from the viewer.

Edward Hopper (1882-1967), New York Interior, c. 1921. Oil on canvas, Overall: 24 1/4 × 29 1/4 in. (61.6 × 74.3cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Josephine N. Hopper Bequest 70.1200. © Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Narrator: Artist and art critic Brian O’Doherty. 

Brian O’Doherty: We're looking at New York Interior. He was 39 when he did that. But Hopper lived long and he was a slow starter, determined. He was a long-distance runner and he paced himself. So, New York Interior proves something that he said to me. He said every artist has a core of originality, a core that is himself. And how does that come out in art? It comes out in the format of things. It comes out in the concerns, the themes, and the details of the paintings he does, even when he's young. 

Narrator: In New York Interior, as is true in paintings from throughout his career, Hopper offers select details, but ultimately doesn’t reveal who or what we are looking at. 

Brian O’Doherty: But she does seem to be a sort of ballerina or dancer. She's in a very flouncy dress. But as I look at it further I see that what she's doing is she's sewing something on her lap and the hand raised, as you may remember from watching your mother. She's sewing and in that hand there's probably—if we could see closely enough—a needle. 

Now on the right there is some typical Hopper furniture, a clock that's rather unusual; time is present. On the left there's another picture. And I look at those things and they're incidentals which gradually tended to be burned away from his art as his vision got purer. But what I do look at as a very powerful thing is that big black vertical on the left which is holding the piece in and is like a kind of exclamation saying, "Look at this picture."