After the Hirshhorn, I headed to the National Museum of American Art (NMAA), home to Hopper's People in the Sun and Cape Cod Morning. Hopper imagined the scene in People in the Sun as taking place in Tucson, Arizona. The characters lift their heads as if to enjoy the sun, but their clothes prevent them from soaking in the warmth. Something Puritanical prevents them from doffing their clothes and/or running off into the field. One person does not look up: a younger man alone at far left in the back row looks down at his book. His huddle implies a communing with ideas; literature has provided him a contentment the others are missing.

In Cape Cod Morning, a woman, boxed in by a bay window, leans on a chair back and stares into a sunlight so selective she seems to be being radiated--by divine knowledge or atomic annihilation we don't know. Edward wanted the sun to be "straight in her eyes." It is the most expressive face in any of his paintings. The woman's arms seem to clutch the chair rather than merely lean on it.

As Jo posed for Cape Cod Morning, she asked if Edward wanted her to be thinking of a French poem. He protested, "That woman doesn't know a word of French." Edward also was unhappy with Jo's hair--"too like a mop"--and went rummaging through popular magazines to find the hairdo he wanted. In a later interview, when asked which of his paintings pleased him more than others, he picked up Cape Cod Morning in reply.

The NMAA was closed for renovations, so I couldn't view the paintings or interview locals in front of them. The paintings were out touring America, like me, and like Hopper himself loved to do. I caught up with those two paintings on their tour a year and a half later. When I did, I also saw yet another Hopper that the museum had meantime acquired: Ryder's House.

It might have been able to be acquired because it is not a great example of Hopper's work.

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