POP POV: Iggy Pop VS Edward Hopper

This idea has long been in the works; two pieces of art – one song, one painting – compared in theme, feeling, style, etc. Studying art is a huge passion of mine, and so often a piece of music and a painting speak to me in similar ways. Even our name “The Vinyl Warhol” came about as a combination of love for music and art history.

For my inaugural juxtaposition, I’ve selected Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger,” a brilliant cut off his 1977 solo album Lust for Life, and American realist Edward Hopper’s 1942 masterpiece, NighthawksEnjoy.

I have always enjoyed the city. Even in such an immense crossing of commuters, there is always a certain singular personality to its madness, thousands – maybe millions – of distinct lives, all unaccompanied in a sea of swirling energy. This theme flows throughout both pieces, playing off of that isolated soul.

In “The Passenger,” that soul travels – presumably by bus – through the city, viewing its “ripped backside” as if looking through a television screen. Pop narrates this transit in a low gristle. His cadence creates tone. We see the passing glow of streetlamps, the distinct urban aura. It’s cold. The sky is hollow.

nighthawks

As we coast through the sleeping city in “The Passenger,” our transporter passes by a dinner. Inside, the characters of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks sit behind similar glass. This snapshot scene – the viewer peaking into this solemn metropolitan life – mirrors Pop’s croons. Hopper often captured city-goers in his work, but rarely were any of his subjects interacting with each other. The separation created between these mannequin-like forms is haunting. They sit under a bright artificial light, stark against the building’s green colors.

Although the big city brings promise of bustling nightlife, it too is the place where we can feel most alone. Pop and Hopper both knew this, and they each shared their own isolated experiences in two remarkable pieces of work.

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