Nighthawks in a time of coronavirus

Edward Hopper’s famous painting Nighthawks, like so much of his work, depicts poignant social disconnection; it also offers a cast of four characters in its bleak setting, which makes it an easy target for parody (by varying the nature of the characters). Meanwhile, the basic theme makes it easily available for symbolizing the way we live during the coronavirus.

Phase I: life on pause, in lockdown. Dozens of people have varied Nighthawks for pandemic times by eliminating all the human characters. One of these:


The people are gone, but evidences of their social life remain, in the furnishings of the diner.

All of that vanishes in the version accompanying an editorial in The Durango (CO) Herald on 4/6/20:


Symbolizing the empty streets of great cities during lockdown times.

Phase II: tentative steps into the world. You wear masks, you distance yourself, and so on. I offer JAK’s (Jason Adam Katzenstein’s) Sketchpad “Phase II” in The New Yorker of 7/6&13/20, p. 19:


The counterman is back, and two of the diners (originally a couple of sorts), now outside, wearing masks, and well separated from one another.

The original, for comparison:



4 Responses to “Nighthawks in a time of coronavirus”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    All right, you got me: Seeing this subject on the heels of your most recent posts, I was expecting to read a report that you had spotted yet another type of avifauna.

  2. arnold zwicky Says:

    From Tim Evanson on Facebook:

    One group of post-WWI Surrealists focused on people-less landscapes. A wheat field would show a lot of scythes lying on the ground, but no people. A house’s courtyard would have needlework on a table, toys on the ground, a steaming cup of coffee on a ledge — but no people.

    I love that concept: A land depopulated by the war. Seemingly normal, but not at all.

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