Friday, April 1, 2011

Not a portrait, not a still life...

not a landscape, not an abstract work...

Not even an artist's studio, which had once been painted containing whole worlds, from Velazquez's "Las Meninas" to Courbet's model and "family" circle ...  but later in the nineteenth century, starting with Cezanne and with Van Gogh's bedroom, and then early in the twentieth century, Braque and Picasso and Matisse painted the stoves, the chairs, the easel, the bare walls, without any human presence. Lovely stuff, too.

But, instead, paintings of rooms. Just rooms: living rooms, dining rooms, without people. Painted, with all the attention and gestural brushwork of a bowl of fruit, or a vase of flowers. So still, no people.

"Still life" painting is a kind of calling card. "I can do this." The petals of a flower, the shine on a silver bowl, reflections of the wine, the bones of a fish. Always something that can be set upon a table.

But not a table. There may be a wall behind the table, but it will be: one wall.  These paintings that I have seen include a couple of walls, a door, some chairs, drapes sometimes, a rug... and they are very mysterious, and beautiful, the way a hill in France looks so perfect, somehow, with a small stone farm in the distance.  Someone has placed the BIG thing in just the right spot. And it waits.

Maybe the closest term is mise-en-scene, a term that means the sets, the props, the visual ideas of a film... the kinds of cut-outs and collages that will help a director and cinematographer work out the scenes of a film. I'm going with that... unless someone has a better idea. Here is my sketch, with easel, and so I promise a more perfect mise-en-scene soon:

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