The Art Institute of Chicago, Friends of American Art Collection
Edward Hopper stated that Nighthawks was inspired by "a restaurant on New York's Greenwich Avenue where two streets meet," but the image, with its carefully constructed composition and lack of narrative, has a timeless quality that transcends its particular locale. The painting depicts a brightly lit, sparsely adorned diner peopled by four figures whose relationships to one another remain frustratingly ambiguous. It is unclear whether they bear some tense, potentially explosive relationship or whether they have been drawn into the diner from the forbidding darkness to take refuge in the silent company of strangers. Nighthawks is Hopper's most famous painting; reworked and parodied countless times, it has become an icon of American culture.