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The Automat Painting: Most You Can Learn About This Gem

Updated: Jan 26

Edward Hopper Automat Painting

I intended to make you aware of something I wanted to tell you last weekend, but I was hoping to find the right time. Today, I found one. Previous Saturday, I went to our usual coffee shop with my brother. Near to us, there was a guy who was sitting alone in the whole crowded cafe. The usual gossip, giggling, and music overrode the entire aura of the surroundings. There was no attention to the boy's desperate eyes or his loneliness between them. As far as I could tell, he wanted a company, and that's what he was looking for. Sometimes I think that the earlier period was much easier to coordinate and meet people. Today, with our fast-growing world, cordial catchups, friendship discussions, and family reunions have become unconditionally alien to us. Our sense of self-containment has grown to the extent that it possesses us to form a giant entity of loneliness and abandonment. When this sense of this friendlessness haunts us, we surround ourselves with despair and misery. An American artist of the 20th century aptly captured this feeling in his famous work- The Automat Painting. In addition to analysing the entire artwork, we will reflect within ourselves to see if we have the same feelings about it.

Moving back in the pages of history, let us go on the brief life of the artist so that we know the basics of the Automat by Edward Hopper.

About Edward Hopper.

He is an American artist, who was born in New York in a middle-class family. Being a realist artist, he captured many emotions through his depictions of isolated landscapes, empty cityscapes and deserted figures. After he completed his schooling, he made three trips to Europe between 1906-10, which influenced his artwork significantly. Previously when he was in school, his compositions included dark and old master techniques of New York interiors. Later he got inspired by the great European artists like Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt, which enabled the use of lights and quick strokes in his later compositions.

American Painter Edward Hopper
Edward Hopper | Source: Harris & Ewing, photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Now that you know a brief about the artist, we can move on to discussing the style of the Automat painting.

Style Of Automat Painting.

We have to approach the style and the period of the artwork to grasp the basics of it. Hence, we are preparing ourselves to get going. The Automat painting has Impressionism and Modernism styles of painting.

Before you wonder and are confused about these two words, let me assure you that we will cover them so that you don't bother switching to tabs and disturbing your quality reading time.

Automat painting by Edward Hopper

What Is Impressionism?

Impressionism is an art movement that some Paris artists initiated and was at its peak in the 1870s and 80s. In this kind, there is a usage of the small, thin, visible strokes with an accurate emphasis on light, often showcasing the effects of the passage of time. It consists of an ordinary subject matter, which in addition, is a crucial element of human perception and experience. There is a considerate usage of impasto( a thick layer of colour). The pure impressionist styles do not consist of black colour, but they use grey, which is produced by mixing complementary colours.

What Is Modernism?

Now let's move on to Modernism. It is a philosophical art movement, that grew out of broad alterations in Western art. It reflects the new society and beliefs, including industrialization, urbanization, architecture, and new technologies. It was more about self-awareness and rejecting religious beliefs.

When you have a brief idea of both techniques, let us go to the most awaited section of the article. You know about it.

Meaning & Analysis Of Automat By Edward Hopper.


Edward Hopper

Year Painted



Oil on canvas


Impressionism and Modernism


71 cm x 91 cm


Approx. $18,720, Not on sale

Where is it housed?

Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA, US

The Automat painting portrays the word loneliness in an intelligible aspect through a woman staring at her coffee cup in an automat.

The woman is the subject of the artwork. She is sitting while her hat lies low over her forehead. In a furry winter coat with cuffs and collar, she looks pretty beautiful with makeup on her face. Though her coat and hat do not look good together, she looked a bit tired and not up to date. She seems uncomfortable being alone in public places, which is evident from this composition. She invites all the viewers to like to assume stories for her, best suited for betrayal or loss. If you carefully see the surroundings, it feels like she calibrated removed from the social flow. Edward heightens the drama by showcasing a dark black window beside the woman with only a few lights, suggesting a proper cut from the outer world's illuminance. It feels to me like a memory from the past. The environment reflects our inner dilemma when we are isolated but make ourselves seem normal from the outside. The strangely empty restaurant is the blunder of emptiness from inside.

Woman in Automat Painting
Closeup | Source:

With the Automat painting, the artist not only painted a story but a moment, a little to be happenings with a giant message inside. The woman sitting in a gloomy condition by herself delivers the dark spell and emptiness. The reflections of light on the window show a tunnel which compelled nothingness, which exists in her isolation. As a viewer looks at this composition, he is immediately moved by the emotion that Edward depicted. His expressionist abstraction evoked a distinct ambience of loneliness and intensified the feeling of abandonment. Though, we can think of it as the woman in her own thoughts with no escape. There are no doors and only windows with few light reflections over.

The circular furniture adorns the completeness of the solitude. It is beautiful instead of broken or wretched. The lady looks trusting and invites empathy, though her trustworthiness is a little naive.

A close up showing subject and furniture of The Automat
A close up showing subject and furniture of The Automat | Source:

It is only a viewer who can fill the void in the entire composition. It lacks a stable point. The Automat painting asks to choose one between the woman and the window with lights. Hopper's paintings are overwhelming and show connectivity through their subject and characters since it is identifiable. One more reason for it; is that the viewer echoes his own disappointments and griefs through seeing them.

The background and window lights of Automat by Edward Hopper
The background and window lights of Edward Hopper's painting | Source:

Colour Analysis.

The painting consists of light and dark colours, representing emotions. There are colours of red, green and yellow in the artwork as the primary colours. There are a lot of soft colours without much intensity. The darkness of the window is dim, and the emerald green goat of the lady is muted, but the light reflection is intense. There is a bright illuminance on her shoulders and arms. Furthermore, her yellow hat provides an eye-catching element that attracts the viewer's attention immediately.

A closeup of Hopper's wife or the subject of Automat painting
A closeup of Hopper's wife or the subject of Automat painting | Source:

The sky blue colour is dominant here, covering the top of the table, boundaries at the back and particularly the saucer and cup for a diligent emphasis on the artwork. The furniture, which is brown in colour, gives a bold look through the use of bright orangish-yellow. There is an essential black on the shadows, and windows, displaying despair and isolation.

The dominance of sky blue colour in different sections of Automat painting
The dominance of sky blue colour in different sections of Automat painting | Source:

Sales History & Future Of Edward Hopper Automat.

Hopper displayed the Automat painting at Rehn Galleries in New York City on Valentine's Day 1927, at the opening of his second solo exhibition. In April, the painting sold for $1,200 ($18,720 in 2021 dollars). The Des Moines Art Center owns the painting today.


In the world of enormous transitions, there are so many things left behind, and loneliness isn't a choice but an imposition in current scenarios. Edward's paintings are the disclosure of our inner feelings, and so does what the exquisite Automat painting did to us.

Tell me the last time you had coffee with your loved ones and talked freely. And if you didn't, what are you waiting for? Ain't the paintings enough to teach us?

Frequently Asked Questions.

Who painted the Automat?

Edward Hopper, an American realist painter, painted the Automat in 1927. The artist portrayed loneliness through a mixture of light and dark compositions and a woman staring at her coffee cup in a cafe.

When did Edward Hopper paint Automat?

The painting was commissioned by Hopper in 1927 and displayed at Rehn Galleries in New York City on Valentine's Day the same year.

Who is the woman in the Automat painting?

Edward Hopper portrayed her wife Josephine Hopper in the artwork Automat.

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