48 NYC MOMA elsewhere

MOMA Nowhere

MOMA has other classic Hoppers that I didn't see that day. Railroad Sunset shows a railroad station's black outline looming in front of a sunset that traipses down the spectrum colors: robin eggs, fires, lemons, mints, and plums.

Also missing was Office in a Small City, which shows a man sitting at a desk staring out at his office window. His dazed expression and slack posture suggest that he has no idea how he got to that desk job or how to get out. The huge square windows on either side of him ape huge blank eyes, glassless and vacant.

MOMA Front

No Hoppers in the galleries. No public in storage. I decided to interview the guy behind the MOMA card shop counter who stared at Hopper reproductions all day. He looked to be in his early fifties, with bulldog jowls, moist puckered lips, and a dark mole on his high-bridged nose. Bushy gray eyebrows rested on his thick glass frames. He answered thoughtfully in a breathy Bronx accent, while he made everyone in line behind me wait with a "so-what?" New York sneer.

"Hopper's one of my favorites. He gives me actually a very nostalgic feel. I find in him a innocence. They seem to bring back a calmer, more peaceful time, a time that unfortunately is gone. One picture I really love: Sunday Morning. I know that it's supposedly down on Seventh Avenue near St. Vincent Hospital, but that to me reminds me of the house that I was born in in Manhattan. I was born in 1940. When I was very young, we used to go out to Long Island on Saturdays and Sundays for shrimps, and I can remember the Mobil sign, and the flying Pegasus like he's got in his paintings [Gas]. There is also the lady at the cafeteria all by herself [Automat ]. I've done that. I've been by myself in a cafeteria just having a cup of coffee. Or sitting at the end of a counter at night. I love New York at night. And in the rain. He really captures that feel."

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