“In 1942, the American painter Edward Hopper produced the signature image of urban loneliness. Nighthawks shows four people in a diner at night, cut off from the street outside by a curving glass window: a disquieting scene of disconnection and estrangement. In his art, Hopper was centrally concerned with how humans were handling the environment of the electric city: the way it crowded people together while enclosing them in increasingly small and exposing cells. His paintings establish an architecture of loneliness, reproducing the confining units of office blocks and studio apartments, in which unwitting exhibitionists reveal their private lives in cinematic stills, framed by panes of glass.
More than 70 years have passed since Nighthawks was painted, but its anxieties about connection have lost none of their relevance, though unease about the physical city has been superseded by fears over our new virtual public space, the internet. In the intervening years, we have entered into a world of screens that extends far beyond Hopper’s unsettled vision.”
“The Future of Loneliness” at The Guardian.