Behind Closed Doors: Habitation through Art

Javier San Martín 

Representation of the domestic: in a field so close it is not easy to reach the expressive level of artists like Bonnard or Vuillard, those 19th century painters who dealt with the theme of domestic bliss in their quiet interiors, or that of Matisse in The Piano Lesson and other images of calm domestic tranquility. Families gathered in a cozy living room illuminated by the warm light of an oil lamp. No screaming, no abrupt gestures, just peace, rest and moderation: a paradise behind closed doors. Neither brilliance nor risks, just the monotonous passage of time and trivial conversations. In the works of these painters one appreciates a contradictory sense in the pleasure of giving in to domestic life: on the one hand the suggestive joy of peace, but on the other the abyss of an endless and terrifying monotony. The prerequisite of all these images of bonheur was, clearly, the consolidation of the nuclear family model, a specifically bourgeois expression of social stability and economic progress, and also, of course, of the contradictions and weaknesses that this model inevitably entailed... [+]

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