Art and melancholy

The AutomatThe city as society’s agent abandons its denizens as night abandons light, as easily as it discards the aged and children and solitaries. The melancholy of urban night intensifies the melancholy of the city as the individual’s own pretenses to contentment are stripped away by the betrayal of autonomy that society represents. Edward Hopper, the twentieth-century American realist painter, captures this mood in his 1927 The Automat, made famous by a 1990’s TIME magazine cover.