Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Hopper Rolls Over In His Grave

Have you all gotten this in the mail yet? AOL's embarassing (mis)appropriation of Edward Hopper's 1942 painting, "Nighthawks"?

I received the advertisement from AOL a few months ago, and put it aside, thinking I would one day use it as an example of the crass and inappropriate commericaliziation of a great work of art.

Mind you, I have no problem with the use of art to sell things -- make money while you can, I say (even if you're dead and your estate gets all the cash). But to so dramatically change the painting gives me the shivers (not to mention the fact that the loneliness of Hopper's original work runs counter to the idea of the constant connectedness that AOL represents).

Anyway, I have since been accumulating examples of similar parodies of "Nighthawks." and I decided to share; aren't I generous? Below you'll see some small reproductions of the parodies; just click them to see the larger images.

The original parody, with which many people are already familiar (the case has been made that more people know this version than the original), is a painting by Austrian artist Gottfried Helnwein. He substituted James Dean, Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis Presley for Hopper's isolated diner patrons.

Andreas von Baudissin is a German freelance graphic designer, and he created this barnyard interpretation of "Nighthawks" as part of his "Joe Haflinger & Chickenduck" series.

What Hopper enthusiast wouldn't be pleased to see the Dark Knight incorporated into "Nighthawks"? None that I know! This parody is from Fanzing, and is called "Knighthawks."

What is Cowboy Bebop? I don't know. Some cartoon, maybe? I don't even have enough interest to Google it.

Another fine find from Flickr; this parody turns the diner into a McDonald's. Obviously.

Steve Martin's movie "Pennies from Heaven" (which, incidentally, is awesome and you should go rent it) includes a number of scenes built on paintings and photographs from the Depression and post-war eras. This scene features Steve Martin (in the fedora) and Bernadette Peters (with her trademark hair).

Alexander Rinesch painted his "Nighthawks" with an elephant. To each his own, I suppose.

D'oh! Homer Simpson is eating donuts in "Yummy's Donuts" in this modern take on Hopper, while Chief Wiggum and Edna Crabapple munch nearby.

The "Nighthawks" diner becomes a truck stop in this obviously-named "Nighthawks at the Truck Stop." Note the butt cleavage on the trucker.

Michael Bedard painted this parody, with more animals. The recurring theme in his work is "sitting ducks," and I think the crocodile is supposed to be checkin out his next meal... hence the title, "Window Shopping."

Again, corporate giants take over the world of Edward Hopper (again, courtesy of Flickr); this one changes the diner into a Starbuck's, but to be more accurate it should probably have another Starbucks across the street.

I found more more Hopper homages and posted them here.


koyore said...

I SO agree with you! I never saw some the examples you posted. I fell in love with the Hooper painting whn I was 8 years old, and I am lucky enough to live in NW IN, which is 1 hour away from the Chicago Art Institute, where the painting resides.

Kevin Church said...

Cowboy Bebop is an excellent anime concerning the misadventures of a crew of bounty hunters in the jazz-soaked old west of the 22nd century. You could do well to rent the first disc.

Unless you think that cartoons are for kids.

Chandira said...

Somebody please shoot Ronald McDonald..
I am becoming more convinced than ever that he's the anti-christ..
(well, second only to Dubya, of course, but he's a close runner up).

Jack Steiner said...


Anonymous said...

I love this painting...I hate how abused it is...I love the version with Monroe Pressley Dean and Bogart, (I'm actually going to buy a print for my apartment...doing an old Hollywood theme), I love Cowboy Bebop, and actually feel their very close to being ok on this...it's a beautiful show, very dramatic, very blues-y, very beautiful...And Steve Martin is wonderful...MCdonalds and starbucks....pisses me off, but it's always good to remind people of conspiracys that should be so obvious (although, most probably won't see that...they'll laugh and turn to the sports section of their newspapers, not realizing, oh...that was once a work of art...)...you missed one by the way...the christian cartoon Veggietales uses it too in "The end of silliness"...My brothers and sisters watch it...It features vegetables in the diner...the whole cartoon is inside the painting....semi creative, yet still majorly apalling to fans of not just Hopper, not just Nighthawks...but to art.

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Anonymous said...

Yeah, that's a good analysis.

You should watch Cowboy Bebop. I hate anime, but I love this show.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that's a good analysis.

You should watch Cowboy Bebop. I hate anime, but I love this show.

Chris said...

Whoa. Thanks for putting them all together like this.

I recently came across an adaptation in the 'Pearls Before Swine' setting btw. Just in case you're interested.

Anonymous said...

Two words regarding Cowboy Bebop...google it.

Anonymous said...

The thing is, putting cowboy bebop in the setting of this classic painting is making a point, that art is art regardless of any constraints. That is one of the main themes of Cowboy Bebop. Putting these characters in this scene is a way of thumbing nose at convention and making an assertion as to the quality of art regardless of frontier. While one would be hard pressed to argue that Cowboy Bebop is as significant or influential as the Hopper painting is ridiculous, but to deny the validity of transgenre art is also absurd. Also, it looks so cool!

Anonymous said...

Is the Simpsons drawing a poster for sale?

There is another Nighthawks reference in the Simpsons, episode #7F17 "Old Money" (1991). Grandpa Simpson slides into a diner seat after a long night on the wrong side of the tracks. It's only visible for a fraction of a second.

Anonymous said...

Here's a nice one from the english artist banksy


Anonymous said...

Lego Nighthawks


Anonymous said...

Mix the space adventure of "Star Wars" w/ the brutal mafia conflict of "The Godfather", and add a dash of the cyberpunk intelligence of "Hackers", stir in some of the greatest jazz sounds to rival "Blue Note" Records, simmer in Japanese wok for three years, and you get Cowboy Bebop-- one of the greatest Japanese Manga/Anime series to ever come to the U.S. It was the main reason Cartoon Network made the "Adult Swim" and (although it is ONLY 26 eps. long with 1 feature film) it's STILL running on American television after 6 years, making it one of the cable channel's BIGGEST MONEY MAKERS OF ALL TIME! You might not care about Cowboy Bebop, but their fans (including yours truly) do! I suggest you watch it. You might even like it. & FYI: The Goggle search engine has over 2.6 mil post for Cowboy Bebop. Think twice the next time before you say something ignorant.

Anonymous said...

This is also for Anonymous at 12:12 am: You hate anime, but you love Cowboy Bebop. If you're looking at Pokemon, Digimon, et. al, well... yeah. Try anime like "Vampire Hunter D. Bloodlust", or "Devil May Cry" & you may change your mind. Sorry to veer off topic, but I had to say it.

Anonymous said...

Here's another one featuring characters from Azumanga Daioh. I don't know who the artist is, though.

Anonymous said...

My favorite is the one with James Dean, Humprey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis Presley

Anonymous said...

Are you aware that the current ad for the Hopper exhibit at the AIC is a parody? It is a photo taken of a diner in Logan's Square in Chicago.

Unknown said...


You can add one more "nighthawks parody" by a korean graphic designer.

Hope you enjoy it.^^

Anonymous said...

There's also one done by That 70's Show in season 1 episode 8 :)

Sildenafil Citrate said...

There are an incredible amount of remakes for that painting it is amazing, whether it comes from cartoons, comics or movies that painting is a great scene by itself so it is notable that someone will try to emulate it.

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