A Room with a View
Wandering through the McNay one day, I stumble upon a room which immediately catches my eye. The warm, inviting presence of light gives off an ethereal awareness. In it is where I first notice a bronze head of Medusa glaring at me, oddly contradicting the ambience of the other figures and paintings around it. As Medusa lets out a silent scream, I can’t help but notice the detail in her configuration of hair, which consists of snakes whose mouths are enveloped with light. They give off an eerie, yet effective feeling which resonates with me.
Moving out of the doorway and further into the space, I notice soft, soothing color coming from an overly ornate, almost Rococo-like picture frame. Written beneath it is “The Serenade” by Auguste Renoir. The use of his color scheme – soft pink, cream, and purple – along with the dim lighting give this painting a soft dynamism. The women who he has painted appear as though to be talking to each other.
Shifting to the right of Renoir, I ponder the painting next to it, which is rather large and titled “Sister of Charity”. It features a nun and heavily occupied with Tahitian men and women, which, to me, cries Gauguin in subject matter by the use of the neutral color palette of browns, greens, and other earth tones. I look and find it is, in fact, Gauguin.
I look further on to see if I can make out a pattern in contrast between one artwork to the next. I happen upon a seemingly small, quiet yet peaceful looking painting. It appears to shy away from view, not wanting to be recognized by its simple wooden frame. I look deeper and notice a very distinct impasto technique with the brushstrokes as the paint moves along the fields like waves. I notice two women: one dressed in white, the other in deep purple, both wearing hats. I look even closer. This painting seems to be on cloth! It is by my favorite artist, van Gogh. I am captivated by its simplicity and drawn even more to it by its tranquility. It comes as no shock to me to see his humble painting in the same small room as Gauguin’s, both being heavily influenced and inspired by Primitivism while they were alive. There was even a bit of rivalry which still is apparent when viewing them, almost as if they are competing with one another. Although the artists’ creative processes were different; one drawing from mental abstraction while the other preferred observing physical reality, it’s safe to say that both artists influenced each other and went on to further influence many others afterwards.
As I stand and keep fixating on it, I hear the distant sound of voices coming closer. Others have discovered my newly acquired hiding spot. Not wanting to create a disturbance, all I can say as I sneak out is, “Goodbye, my little room with a view.” (499)
A Room with a View