Chop Suey Painting by Edward Hopper: Everything You Need to Know (2023)

Edward Hopper is known for making paintings that portray still moments so brilliantly that it can multiply the intensity of that stillness. Most of his paintings evoke a sense of isolation, loneliness, and quietness. Chop Suey painting by Hopper is perhaps his second most popular work, the first being the Nighthawks. And both these paintings share the same theme.

One thing you may have noticed in almost all of the paintings by Hopper is the use of a large window that separates the outside and the inside world. Chop Suey also has the very same window and it plays a pivotal role in creating the atmosphere for the scene. But what’s this painting trying to show, or more aptly, what’s this painting trying to invoke?

About the painting

Name of the painting: Chop Suey
Painter: Edward Hopper
Date of completion: 1929
Dimensions: 2 feets 8 inches x 3 feets 2 inches (96.5 x 81 cm)
Medium: Oil on canvas
Style: Social realism, Modernism
Genre: Genre painting
Price: Sold to a private buyer for $91.1 million, making it Hopper’s most expensive painting.

The structure of the scene

The viewers are placed inside a restaurant in New York City. We can only see two tables. The focus of the scene is the woman wearing green, her face being the brightest spot on the painting. The restaurant is called Chop Suey and it looks like a Chinese place with the oriental teapot and china bowl suggesting that.

(Video) 'A Moment of Stillness' | Edward Hopper's 'Chop Suey' | Christie's

As common with other of Hopper’s works, there is the use of straight, transverse lines giving the painting a very clear perspective. This use of straight lines gives the painting a very orderly look, everything inside the restaurant sits well-spaced, and the space is very airy.
The primary colors in this painting are red and yellow. The yellow window panes, lamp-shade, and the sunlight. The furniture and the walls of the restaurant are red (reddish-brown). But it isn’t just the color, but the shade which makes the painting catch your eyes.

All the colors of this painting have a fluorescent, garish tone that makes the scene look very dry. So the distinct vision of this painting and why it looks unique can be attributed partly to the combination of warm colors and the dry feeling of it. But that’s the painting, what is the meaning of it?

Meaning of Chop Suey painting

From what I have seen and read, there are a lot of critics trying to find the meaning behind this painting. Some wild theories that I have heard include that the woman sitting next to the subject is her doppelganger. Why? Because she’s wearing a blue cap as well. That’s not the case. The actual meaning of the painting is quite simple.

The painting is about changing city life, a slice of the hundreds of scenes that you would see in a large city. I want you to imagine walking in a crowded street in New York City. Perhaps you are left for office or you have to be somewhere important. And like you, everyone on the street has the same urgency. So what would you notice about the city? Nothing.

(Video) Chop Suey Painting Story Final Version

When we are walking around the streets, we hardly look at the world around us. There is nothing to notice. We might look at a cafe or a restaurant but then move along. The things that we miss in these moments are what Hopper captured and fascinated us with.

Think about it, there is no spectacular scene being portrayed here. Just two women waiting for their food, talking about their daily affairs. And if you walked past them, you might get a glimpse of it, but that would be momentary. It would exist for a second and then be lost forever. But there’s more to it.

There is an undertone of loneliness in this painting. Not just this, but most of Hopper’s paintings. Critics have pointed that out and while Hopper never acknowledged the motive of invoking loneliness in the viewers through his painting, this is something that I have felt too.

This stems mostly because of the scenes he depicts. He chose isolated spots of the city, showing scenes where nothing is happening. This is very contrary to the scene being depicted. A large city is expected to be very lively, crowded but Hopper shows lonely quiet places within structures that are excessively lifeless. This is what invokes the sense of loneliness.

(Video) Chop Suey (1929) by Edward Hopper | Art Collectibles #shorts

Hopper and his wife Jo went to similar restaurants a lot during their earlier years of marriage. Perhaps this is what he might have remembered from one of his visits? The woman in focus is modeled after Jo, like all of his woman subjects. And many people have noticed her expression to be an important element in the painting.

Chop Suey Painting by Edward Hopper: Everything You Need to Know (1)

The woman’s expression

Another enigma that many critics have created about this painting is the expression on the woman’s face. I’ve read that there is an expression of tension, an uneasiness in the face of the woman. She is said to be very distant from the person she is sitting with. But I don’t see that at all. I think she has a normal expression and she is listening to her friend.

Hopper did not have the intention to show the loneliness which city life presents to many. He just wanted to capture the other side of a bustling city, the opposite side of it. Quiet, motionless, clean, and isolated. And when one sees such a side of a busy city, they are bound to feel a sense of loneliness. The woman is not lonely, she’s just sitting on the quiet side of the city. The rush and activity are happening on the other side of the window.

(Video) Do you know what this painting is called and who painted it?

In the period when Hopper started painting city life, women were coming out of their houses and working with men, sharing both the workspace and the recreation space. This is the reason why we see so many women sitting in cafes and restaurants or working in offices. Not because Hopper wanted to show them, but because that is what he saw. And this changing population interested him. And that is the reason why the subject here is a woman.
In conclusion

This painting is about a scene that one could see on a busy city day if they stopped and looked. Hopper has portrayed a contrasting picture. On the other side of the window is a city that is full of rush and deadlines and work. But on the inside, it is about quietness, stillness, and silence. The window divides the two worlds. And the people inside? They are the viewers.

Hopper uses human subjects to transport the viewers into the painting. If it was just a painting of an empty cafe, you wouldn’t feel the serene calmness and even the loneliness. It would be just a lifeless place. But Hopper puts people inside the scene to make us feel what they are feeling, at the same time showing the entire scene to us so that we can get the feeling of the atmosphere. This is why we get the feeling of loneliness.

This concludes the article. But that should not be the end of the reading. Here are some other articles related to Edward Hopper that you will find interesting.

(Video) Chop Suey Photo Project

  • Automat by Edward Hopper shows the need of a quiet moment in our life
  • Here’s why Nighthawks by Hopper is considered one of his best paintings
  • Why perspective is so important in understanding the painting Office at Night


What is the meaning behind Edward Hopper paintings? ›

Hopper's paintings highlight themes of isolation and loneliness. In their time, these works were successful at depicting the emotions of Americans during both the World Wars and the Great Depression.

Why did Edward Hopper paint Chop Suey? ›

Hopper's oil paintings were often a result of a combination of his past experiences, and it is thought that Chop Suey was partially inspired by two restaurants the artist visited in the 1920s.

What techniques did Edward Hopper use in his paintings? ›

By creating sketches, Hopper could try out different representations, all of which provided information that aided the final decision-making process. Another one of Hopper's methods of preparation was to include detailed color notations that would allow him to paint in his studio instead of on-site.

What themes did Edward Hopper explore in his paintings? ›

Hopper's etchings signal themes the artist would explore throughout his career: isolated figures, empty streets, strong contrasts between light and shadow, and the play of sunlight on architecture.

What are two of the major themes of Edward Hopper's work? ›

Edward Hopper (1882–1967) produced some of the most enduringly popular images in American art. Throughout his career, he created quiet yet riveting pictures that express both sense of isolation and uncertainty and the bittersweet comfort of solitude.

What is Edward Hopper style of art? ›

Edward Hopper

When was chop suey painting created? ›

Chop Suey (1929) is a painting by Edward Hopper. The foreground of the work portrays two women in conversation at a restaurant. In November 2018, it was sold at $92 million, a record price for the artist's work.

How much did chop suey sell for? ›

A painting by American artist Edward Hopper has sold for almost $92 million, becoming the most expensive of the artist's work to be acquired at auction. "Chop Suey" raised $91,875,000 at Christie's in New York as part of a larger sale of American modernist art titled An American Place: The Barney A.

What elements of design is Edward Hopper known for? ›

He was an American realist painter known for his contrasting colors, dramatic angles, incredibly sensitive use of light, and a sense of balance in every painting. At the beginning of Edward Hopper's career, he made a few trips to France.

What mediums does Edward Hopper use? ›

Edward Hopper primarily used oil paint on canvas as the medium for his art. He also created a number of etchings and a few watercolor paintings.

How does Edward Hopper use Colour? ›

He used dark and light colors in his paintings to juxtapose light and shade along with human construction and savage nature (Hopper 37). Hopper used the combination of color and emotion to capture a moment of honest human nature (Hopper).

What is the main theme of the painting? ›

Theme relates to the meaning of a painting, rather than the subject, which is specific and basic. A theme is deeper and broader and conveys something more universal. Mood is the atmosphere in a painting, or the feeling expressed. Is the art tranquil, or is it dark and disturbing?

What is Hopper's most famous painting called? ›

'Nighthawks' by Edward Hopper is often recognised as one of the most famous artworks of 20th century America. The painting depicts a midnight scene of 'Phillies' diner, inside which 4 anonymous figures can be seen; 2 men, 1 woman and a bartender.

What theme of painting depicts a scene from the past? ›

In modern English, "historical painting" is sometimes used to describe the painting of scenes from history in its narrower sense, especially for 19th-century art, excluding religious, mythological, and allegorical subjects, which are included in the broader term "history painting", and before the 19th century were the ...

What are the elements of art? ›

ELEMENTS OF ART: The visual components of color, form, line, shape, space, texture, and value. may be two-or three-dimensional, descriptive, implied, or abstract.

What is realism in art appreciation? ›

realism, in the arts, the accurate, detailed, unembellished depiction of nature or of contemporary life. Realism rejects imaginative idealization in favour of a close observation of outward appearances.

What was Edward Hopper influenced by? ›

Edward Hopper

What is the most expensive Hopper painting? ›

The crown jewel of the Ebsworth collection: Edward Hopper's “Chop Suey,” a 1929 oil painting of two women talking in a restaurant, which went for $91.9 million.

What are the 3 main types of Chinese painting? ›

Traditional Chinese paintings can be classified as figure paintings, landscapes and flower-and-bird paintings. Landscapes represent a major category in traditional Chinese painting, mainly depicting the natural scenery of mountains and rivers.

What is a Suey? ›

Noun. suey (countable and uncountable, plural sueys) (slang) Suicide (act of self-killing).

What are the 3 genres of Chinese painting *? ›

The tools used in traditional Chinese painting are paintbrush, ink, traditional paint and special paper or silk. It developed and was classified by theme into three genres: figures, landscapes, and birds-and-flowers.

Where is the Judgement scene located in this painting? ›

Sistine Chapel, Vatican City

How much do Hopper paintings price? ›

Edward Hopper's work has been offered at auction multiple times, with realized prices ranging from 20 USD to 91,875,000 USD, depending on the size and medium of the artwork.

Where is the snail painting located? ›

The Snail (L'escargot) is a collage by Henri Matisse. The work was created from summer 1952 to early 1953. It is pigmented with gouache on paper, cut and pasted onto a base layer of white paper measuring 9'4 3⁄4" × 9' 5" (287 × 288 cm). The piece is in the Tate Modern collection in London.

What does chop suey literally mean? ›

Literally meaning 'odds and ends', Chop Suey is a dish that consists of stir-fried meat, egg and an assortment of vegetables, including cabbage and bean sprouts. Traditionally, it would be made using leftovers.

What does chop suey mean in China? ›

The name 'chop suey' comes from the Cantonese phrase tsap sui, which translates to odds and ends and the Mandarin term tsa sui, which means miscellaneous broken pieces. The origins of the name should give you a bit of a hint about what kind of ingredients you'll find in chop suey and how it's made!

What does chop suey mean in America? ›

US, chiefly New England. : a dish of elbow macaroni, ground beef, and tomatoes or tomato sauce typically with chopped onions and green peppers.

What elements of arts were used in design? ›

The elements of design are the fundamental aspects of any visual design which include shape, color, space, form, line, value, and texture.

What is the most obvious elements of design? ›

Color. Color is one of the most obvious elements of design, for both the user and the designer. It can stand alone, as a background, or be applied to other elements, like lines, shapes, textures or typography. Color creates a mood within the piece and tells a story about the brand.

What is the first and most famous basic element of design? ›

The first and most basic element of design is the line. In design, a line is any two connected points. These lines can be straight or curved, and may be smooth, rough, continuous, broken, thick, or thin.

What kind of painter is Hopper? ›

Edward Hopper (July 22, 1882 – May 15, 1967) was a prominent American realist painter and printmaker. While he was most popularly known for his oil paintings, he was equally proficient as a watercolorist and printmaker in etching.

How does the use of color impact the painting? ›

Color in art can evoke a mood or create a response in the viewer. Cool colors are blues and greens. Blue invokes a calming effect.

How does the color wheel work for painting? ›

The color wheel is an arrangement of all colors on the spectrum based on their relationships, and it's useful in creating harmonious color schemes. Complementary colors enhance each other's intensity when placed right next to each other, which is why they're often used to create bold, high-contrast images that pop.

What is the main theme of the story? ›

The term theme can be defined as the underlying meaning of a story. It is the message the writer is trying to convey through the story. Often the theme of a story is a broad message about life. The theme of a story is important because a story's theme is part of the reason why the author wrote the story.

What is the main theme of the story meaning? ›

Theme is the main or central idea in a literary work. It is the unifying element of a story. A theme is not a summary of characters or events. Rather, it is the controlling idea or central insight of the story.

What is the main idea or theme of this story? ›

The main idea is what the book is mostly about. The theme is the message, lesson, or moral of a book. By asking crucial questions at before you read, while you read, and after you read a book, you can determine the main idea and theme of any book you are reading!

What is the most famous painting in the world and who painted it? ›

1. Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci (1503-1505) Probably the most famous painting in the world is Leonardo da Vinci's La Gioconda, better known as Mona Lisa. This painting is a portrait of Madame Gherardini, personifying the ideal woman of the Renaissance.

What is the name of the world's most famous painting? ›

Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa, oil on panel, circa 1503. Detail. Leonardo da Vinci's iconic Mona Lisa, the world's most famous, recognizable, and copied artwork, has a storied history. Painted between 1503 and 1519, it was owned by French royalty for centuries.

What is the message or theme of the artwork? ›

The definition of theme in art is the message that the artist wishes to convey through the artwork. Theme is not simply the subject matter of the piece of art; rather, it is the abstract idea being portrayed by both the artist's design and the subject matter that is created.

What are the 7 painting themes? ›

The 7 Themes
  • Supreme Reality Art reveals these 7 stages of the Self's journey through life… ...
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What is the painting a metaphor of? ›

Every choice is mine. The canvas, the colour. As a child I had neither a sense of the world nor my place in it but art taught me that one's vision can be achieved with sheer force of will.

What is significant about Edward Savage's painting? ›

Edward Savage's engraving, based on Robert Edge Pine's painting of the presentation of the Declaration of Independence to the Continental Congress, is considered one of the most realistic renditions of this historic event. Jefferson is the tall person depositing the Declaration of Independence on the table.

What was scene painting and why was it used? ›

This painting technique gave the scenery a three-dimensional appearance. The scenery gave the stage the appearance that it is deeper than it is. With false perspective, the stage is raked.

What subject matter did American scene painter Edward Hopper depict in his painting? ›

What type of subject matter did American Scene painter Edward Hopper depict in his paintings? Hopper painted images of human isolation in modern American society.

Who were the people in Edward Savages painting? ›

He painted at least seven portraits of Washington and two of Martha Washington. Undoubtedly his most famous work, The Washington Family, was the only contemporary painting to depict the first president at Mount Vernon. In 1791, Savage traveled to London to engrave and publish his initial portraits of Washington.

What is a list of government abuses by King George? ›

King George III interfered with that process by rejecting legislation proposed by the colonies, dissolving colonial bodies of representation, replacing colonial governments with his appointed ministers, and interfering with the naturalization of citizens in new regions.

What was the original name of the Declaration of Independence? ›

The title of the document was "A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled."

What is a painting of a scene called? ›

genre painting, painting of scenes from everyday life, of ordinary people in work or recreation, depicted in a generally realistic manner. Genre art contrasts with that of landscape, portraiture, still life, religious themes, historic events, or any kind of traditionally idealized subject matter.

What is the art scene? ›

“The Art Scene” offers an inside look at some of the region's most interesting theatres, galleries, studios, and arts education groups. The program is hosted by actor Haliya Roberts with segment hosts Bianca Bryan, Douglas “Roscoe B” Powell, and Noah Scalin.

What was the original purpose of paint? ›

Paints and coatings have evolved from the simple Early Man colors on cave walls into a primary protective barrier between our possessions and our environment.

What is the main subject of painting what does it? ›

In general, subject may be thought of as the “what” in a piece of art: the topic, focus, or image. The most common subjects of art include people (portraiture), arrangements of objects (still-life), the natural world (landscape), and abstractions (non-objective).

What is the subject theme of the painting? ›

The subject matter is what the work is actually "about", while the theme defines the "story" behind a work in a particular genre or style, or with a particular motif or look. A truism of modern art is that any given work will have many possible interpretations.

What is the central subject depicted in the artwork? ›

The term subjects in art refers to the main idea that is represented in the artwork. The subject in art is basically the essence of the piece. To determine subject matter in a particular piece of art, ask yourself: What is actually depicted in this artwork? What is the artist trying to express to the world...


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