In the years before 1940, the artist struggled to find new subjects.
(1928) is the name of a painting that was destroyed in a train crash in 1929 while being returned from an exhibition.
For Hopper to give names to his paintings remains exceptional.
A decade earlier, both the artist and the writer had driven through the American continent in the summer and each in their respective media captured the beauty of the American roadside—often from the vantage point of their automobile—in a manner that stands at odds with the stark realism of most photographic and painterly representations of the time.
Hopper’s reads as the verbal rendition of that tension.
, this oneiric evocation of a gas station on the American roadside follows European émigré Humbert’s description of a cloudy landscape that reminds him of European painters Claude Lorrain’s and El Greco’s horizons We had stopped at a gas station, under the sign of Pegasus, and [Lolita] had slipped out of her seat and escaped to the rear of the premises while the raised hood, under which I had bent to watch the mechanic's manipulations, hid her for a moment from my sight” (Nabokov, 211).
Under the flying horse, Humbert’s partial view of the busy attendant along with his companion’s momentary disappearance to the back of the premises completes the picture.
Americans truly discovered Hopper when the Whitney Museum organized the first major retrospective of his work in February and March 1950.
Over 170 of his paintings were shown, including when the Hopper exhibition was receiving much attention (See in particular Coates, 1950, 73-74).
Saving energy, the gas attendant of the Truro station would not light his pumps until it was pitch dark (Levin 1995b, 328)3.
The traffic on the road, and the busybodies who usually hang around a gas station, may have been other impediments to the depiction of that perfectly still painting.