January 1, 2005
Thomas Dunne Books
Gordon Theisen
Staying Up Much Too Late
Edward Hopper's Nighthawks and the Dark Side of the American Psyche
* Hardcover: 256 pages
* Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (June 13, 2006)
* Language: English
* ISBN: 0312333420
Editorial Reviews:
From Publishers Weekly
Hopper's Nighthawks is one of the most iconic images in 20th-century art, but Theisen's analysis of the "desolate, alien, denatured, perverse, [and] desperate" masterpiece is too facile to support all the cultural weight he wants to place upon it. The interpretations veer between the obvious (he characterizes the urban setting as representing an absence of nature) and the bizarre (he imagines the painting's four figures engaging in group sex). Some sections add flashes of insight—like a discussion of Hopper's familiarity with commercial illustration that segues into the influence of Warhol's Pop—but in trying to make Hopper resonate with everything from cool jazz to Robert Crumb's underground comics, Theisen overreaches and occasionally stumbles. Discussing film noir, for example, he dwells on the "movie screen–like proportions" of Nighthawks, although Hopper completed the painting a decade before the introduction of wide-screen projection. At times, the fledgling critic can't seem to make up his mind: is the uniform menu of the diner supposed to be depersonalizing, as he suggests in one chapter, or subversively democratic? As Theisen meanders through his checklist of cultural pessimism, some readers may conclude that Nighthawks is better off letting its powerful imagery speak for itself. 8-page color insert. (July)
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Advance Praise for STAYING UP MUCH TOO LATE:
"A personal meditation on Hopper's most famous painting, Staying Up Much Too Late should introduce Gordon Theisen as exactly what he is: one of the true originals in American letters. In Staying Up Much Too Late Gordon Theisen dismantles the American Dream like a savvy child patiently unscrewing an Erector set Shangri-la. He begins by skewering American optimism, ends with a hymn of praise to un-American pessimism, and in between demonstrates convincingly that Edward Hopper's great painting Nighthawks is imbued with the underhistory of America. We live in the loneliest country on Earth, Theisen tells us, and his darkly vivid language, like Hopper's brushwork, renders it with deadpan accuracy. What a lovely book."
--John Vernon, author of A Book of Reasons
Gottfried Helnwein:
1. on Page 83:
" But diners like the diner portrayed in Nighthawks are about more than food. Austrian artist Gottfried Helnwein was onto something with Boulevard of Broken Dreams. This popular copy of Nighthawks replaces Hopper's anonymous customers and server with dead legends of twentieth-century culture: The couple became an ecstatic Marilyn Monroe and a smoking, scowling Humphry Bogart (but he enjoyed scowling); the man with the back to us becomes James Dean ..."
2. from Index:
"... James Albert, 79 "Boom Boom" (Hooker, 1962), 119 Both Members of This Club (Bellows, 1909), 43-44 Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Helnwein, 1981), 10, 83 Braque, Georges, 36 Breasts and Hand (Stieglitz, 1918), 109-10 Broken Hearth, The: Reversing the Moral Collapse of ..."
3. from Index:
"... 212 Hartley, Marsden, 29 Hawk, Howard, 135, 192 Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 116 Haynes, Todd, 11 Hayworth, Rita, 123 Hefner, Hugh, 124 Helnwein, Gottfried, 10, 83 Hemingway, Ernest, 13, 89-90, 211-12 Hendrix, Jimi, 154, 156 Henri, Robert, 27, 42 Hitchcock, Alfred, 187 Hobbs, ..."

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