Scrapbook #6. Conceptually Recontextualize

Nov, 28, 2015
By Lauren Gutierrez

Nighthawks is an iconic American painting created by Edward Hopper in 1942. It depicts a couple and a man sitting at a downtown diner late at night. A glass wall divides the warmly lit interior of the diner and the dark desolate streets outside. Some critics say that the absence of a door signifies detachment or isolation from the city which has undertaken many sudden changes during World War II. Although the street looks lonely there are remnants of life like the cash register and partly drawn blinds.

Nighthawks (1942) Edward Hopper

I sketched what I call “Night Owls at Nostalgia” to play on the idea of existential loneliness. Outside of the cafe it is lonely, dark, and barren. It may represent the feeling that some people have when they live in a big city but they feel apart from others. Yet inside the cafe the couple watches the moon rise as they drink coffee which resembles familiarity, warmth and comfort. The cafe is meant to signify a personal space where they can be safe to take refuge in each other.

Night Owls at Nostalgia

Appropriation in art is to deliberately recontextualize an original work of art to create a new conceptual meaning. I took the distinct look of the diner and turned it into a cafe with new characters. Some features of the building are different too like the brick building, the night sky shown outside the window, and of course the couple sitting on the counter. It is an obvious reference to Nighthawks but it has taken it’s original meaning and turned it into something new.