Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rooms with a View

*Wilhelm Bendz's "Interior From Amaliegade With the Artist's Brothers," around 1829 via NYT

I noticed that the Metropolitan Museum of Art is currently showcasing a series of 26 works of art all revolving around a single theme: Rooms With a View. Journalist Roberta Smith's review of this exhibition in the Weekend Arts section of last Friday's New York Times left me spellbound. She calls the collection "passively subversive" in that the works it showcases "determinedly say no to established authoritative statements: formal portraiture and large-scale history painting, or depictions of grand structures and even the stark or overwhelming landscapes characteristic of a more outdoorsy Romanticism." When so much of the world is preoccupied with external events - political clashes, wars, entertainment news - I find it refreshing to consider the importance of interiors.

I think that is part of Ms. Smith's point: that by representing interior scenes of quiet domesticity - subjects engaged in ordinary activities, such as embroidering, combing hair, reading, or merely peering quietly out a garden window - these artists were saying that these scenes mattered. Perhaps not as much as the Napoleanic Wars, but still, they mattered. A home. A quiet place to retreat. A room to dream and rest and think in. These things mattered. And still do.

*Georg Friedrich Kersting's "Woman Embroidering" (1811) via NYT

Tim Keller (quoting a scholar whose name I can't remember) says in one of his sermons that "religion is what you do with your solitude." In our moments of solitude we show not only what we value, but who we are; not simply what we enjoy, but what we worship. It can be taken too far, but I think this is a point worth considering.

*Caspar David Friedrich's "Woman at the Window" (1822) via NYT
I wish New York weren't so far away. I can think of no better way to spend the afternoon than wandering down the oyster gray hallways of these exhibit rooms. Instead, I'll try to enjoy the view from my own window - green tree tops jutting into gray clouds, cracked with sunlight, and the occasional silhouette of a black bird cutting across the sky.


Jessie Jaques said...

Great post!!!
I'm a fan of a day at the gallery myself. Loved this. :)

Joseph Anfuso said...

A beautiful thought, beautifully expressed.