The window theme as a symbolic expression of the life and work of Edward Hopper

In this study, the recurring motif of the window in the work of Edward Hopper is examined and found to have symbolic meaning in the artist's oeuvre. The methodology used is biographical and iconological. Hopper was an artist who persistently and emphatically identified his work with his sense of self. Therefore, the biographical account is of importance. The iconological aspect of the study is found in the examination of the artist's use of the window in his paintings and prints. Within the biographical account of Hopper, emphasis is given to his personality and psychological make-up. The relationship of the artist with his wife is also of special importance. Attention is given to the social and artistic currents which surrounded Hopper as a developing artist. Further understanding of the artist is gained from a discussion of his own views on art and the creative process. The discussion of the window pictures focuses on four categories based on the way the window functions in the pictures. Possible artistic sources for Hopper's use of the window motif are considered as well as other influences such as the theater and film. Finally, certain pairings of oppositional elements or dichotomies are suggested by the functioning of the window in these pictures. These same dichotomies are also shown to have been present in the form of conflicts in Hopper's life. Because of Hopper's stated purpose of self-expression in his work, the parallel existence of dichotomous elements in his life and in the window pictures points to a special relationship between the two. This study suggests that Hopper's window theme, by virtue of the parallel dichotomous elements it shared with the artist's life, functioned in part as a symbolic self-expression in his work. Therefore, the examination of the artist's life and his window pictures can contribute to further understanding and appreciation of Edward Hopper's artistic vision.