SOL 11 – Fool’s House

WScreen Shot 2017-03-08 at 4.31.56 PMhen I was in 6th grade my father retired from the Navy and eventually got a job working for Octameron, a very small educational publishing company that focused on college admissions. The office was a small two-story brick building in the now very hip Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, VA. Over the years I would visit, sometimes helping with the shipping department downstairs and then running upstairs help with some mindless office task.

On the landing of the stairs hung this tall narrow print called Fool’s House by Jasper Johns. On this version his name appears below it along with all one needed to know about viewing it at the Hayward Gallery on the south bank in London for 60 pence. Little did I know then that London and art would become two important things to me. I always liked this print. It was realistic, broke the rules, felt playful and kind of funny with all the items labeled. It feels calm and messy at the same time. It has depth. It has stories.FullSizeRender 7

Years later I was on an occasional tour through the East Wing of the National Gallery and there it was on the wall. I spotted it from a distance. I was thrilled but as I got closer, I was shocked. The broom really was a broom and the cup really was a cup. My sixth grade self had thought all these years it was just a very realistic painting. After the reality fully sunk in, I learned to like it even more. I love how it seems the broom was used as a giant paint brush on the canvas. Perhaps it is only fitting that it is called Fool’s House, because it now hangs in this fool’s house and here is the photo to prove it.

 

 

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8 comments

  1. I like your post today for so many reasons. For one, it got posted just minutes before I posted my on this Saturday and it made me smile knowing you were here. So glad you took up doing the writing challenge this year. Then I loved learning that your dad worked in the now very hip Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, VA, where I lived first when Anne was born until her 1st grade year. You had me thinking of Anne more when you wrote “Little did I know then that London and art would become two important things to me.” She often travels to towns in Europe that I visited while pregnant with her or on the trip to Spain we took with her when she was 7. Maybe now I’m realizing how all those subtle things in our life really do leave an impression. I wonder if your dad has a story about why this painting hung in the office? Since he is still around, you could share this story with him and ask! Thanks for posting next to me today or as you would say, “The universe spoke and brought us together!”

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  2. Your reflection is full of movement and depth of it’s own. I’m thinking about the way you talked about the labeling — how often we label things only to realize we need to revise them later. I love the notion of discovering something familiar only to realize how unfamiliar and new and layered it is. I really appreciate this one.

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  3. But aren’t we all fools at some point or another? It’s a striking painting. Thank you for including the pictures. They add to the beauty of your words!

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  4. What a special moment! In the past, when I’ve had the chance to see meaningful paintings in person, I’m usually struck by something like the size, or quality of the colors, but never have I had my expectation so entirely subverted. I agree with my mom, you should share this story with your dad and see what you can find out about the original poster!

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  5. I love when the universe collides and small moments like you described happen — all for a reason, of course. The ties with your Dad, the memories, London, the art. And your last line … foolishly perfect.

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