Looking at the collection of masterpieces at the Met over and over again just increased my interest in art and art history, enough to inspire me to want to do this project. What better way to learn art history than to experience it firsthand? So I really appreciate professor Rosenberg for taking the time out to take the class on the trip to the Met. All the paintings I saw were cool and interesting. I had some favorites some that I liked more than others but there was this one painting that struck my eyes the most, which in this essay I’m going to talk about.
The talented artist James Rosenquist created the painting that had me in such awe when I saw it which is called House On Fire. House Of Fire was created in 1981 it was an oil on canvas painting. When I walked into the floor where the painting was put on display I saw some really interesting artwork. As I walked a little bit further to the middle of the room I saw this large canvas painting that took up most of the wall where it was hanging from. I literally got so excited when I saw the painting I even told the guy I was talking to at the time that I was definitely going to do my project on that painting.
What really caught my eye and attention were the lipsticks that were featured in the painting. Everyone that knows me, knows that I’m very obsessed with makeup especially lipsticks. So I instantly fell in love with the painting. It was like I never saw anything like it before. Just all the different colors and detail really caught my attention. When I first came across the painting I noticed that the bag with groceries in it was upside down, I thought that was kind of weird.
I wondered what was the reason behind it or was the artist trying to make a statement. When I saw the artwork and after studying it for a while I came to the conclusion that this painting is based on the life of a woman. I came to that conclusion because there were various different colors of lipsticks. As you can see in the painting it has a bag of groceries, a bucket of steel, a window with blinds, and different color lipsticks. I noticed the various different bold bright and dark colors that he used through out the painting.
It looked like he used a special technique to show the various different lighting through out the painting. And he was very precise with the detailing of the painting, which I absolutely loved. The bag of groceries is overturned, yet remains full. The bucket of steel descends through an open window and the huge aggressive lipsticks dwarf the other objects and seem to rush into the painting, invading the central panel like a battery of weapons racing to the rescue. The bright colors increase the dynamism and energy of the work.
There is a seemingly infinite number of shades of red there, especially noticeable in the lipsticks. The fire red/orange of the central panel is contrasted by its color opposite in the blue of the window and the red of the left hand panel is contrasted by the window and the red of the left hand panel is contrasted by the green of the parsley another juxtaposition of color opposites that enlivens the picture. Unlike the rest of the painting, the parsley is delicately, even sensuously painted.
Rosenquist’s illogical assembly of objects, his abrupt and irrational jumps in scale, and his bright, active colors make this striking, disquieting composition. Yet no matter how ambiguous the subject, this picture is not without meaning. The lipsticks, for example are unquestionably phallic in appearance. Perhaps they hint at they way women use cosmetics to enhance their sexuality, and perhaps in the similarity of the lipsticks to guns they recall our associations of male sexuality with violence and aggression. But clearly, House Of Fire is not a narrative picture.
Rather it is one whose objects and style in which they are painted combine to form a complex image of violence, sexuality, aggression, industrialism, and consumerism the overriding concerns of the intellectual’s from the 1950s through the 70s. In conclusion, I really thought this painting was a phenomenal painting. As you can see this painting tells a deep story about ones personal every day life. Everything about this painting has a specific meaning to it. Everyone of course will look at this painting and have their own interpretations on it but that’s the beauty of it.