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Spend the night in an Edward Hopper painting

Numéro art

Sleeping in a painting done by the artist Edward Hopper in the 1950s: this original idea comes from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, in the context of an exhibition devoted to one of the 20th century’s most important figures.

A woman sits on the bed of a hotel room, lit by the light of the rising sun. Big curtains are drawn back, the windows offer a view over an expanse of mountains in the American west. This décor is exactly the same as the one painted in 1957 by Edward Hopper, a key figure in 20th century art, in one of his most famous paintings: Western Motel. Perfectly representative of the American artist’s work, the canvas showcases the particular attention he pays to realism and his taste for sobriety, from the crucial role of the light to the implacable melancholia resulting from a post-war ‘American way of life’. Like most of Edward Hopper’s works, it shows a world far more lifelike than reality into which the spectator is drawn without ever actually reaching. 


But that was before the new exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which since October 26th has been inviting the public to experience the aforementioned painting by recreating the deécor within its walls. An extra originality means visitors can even spend the night in this particular room, just a few steps away from the original oeuvre, and thus be truly immersed in the 1950s ambiance recreated with meticulously chosen furniture and colours. By paying $150 to $500, it’s possible to access offers that include a dinner, a mini-golf session and a private visit to the exhibition. The project of this museum, located in Richmond, the capital of Virginia, is all part of an exhibition devoted to the works of Edward Hopper and his fascination for hotel decors.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Hopper Hotel Experience. Travis Fullerton © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, October 2019.

While this bold proposition is the first of its kind for the American museum, Edward Hopper’s captivating decors have always inspired other artists and encouraged them to set it in motion. In 2013, the Austrian director and decorator Gustav Deutsch released Shirley, a journey into the painting of Edward Hopper, a full-length film composed of 13 scenes that each take place in one of the American artist’s paintings. A veritable filmic and pictorial odyssey, caught between narration and contemplation. 


Edward Hopper and the American Hotel, is on until February 23rd 2020 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond (Virginia), USA.