Those of us with long memories will recall the 2011 show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rooms with a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century. We were stunned to see so many German, French, Danish, and Russian artists who never made it into art history courses but whose work revealed a combination of perspective and painterly psychology. With or without human figures, the usually small-format canvases conveyed contradictory feelings of anguish and awe, despair and joy—as if the views from within rooms opening outward were a species coming into consciousness or awareness.
Quentin James McCaffry’s Sunset (2020) abandons human drama in order to focus on composition. Using the tiled floor of Dutch interiors, McCaffrey paints a small table with a flower pot set against a bright blue wall on which hang two small landscape paintings. This exquisite Rococo-esque scene is really an exercise in perspective. We have left drama behind and are moving into the chaste harmony of geometry.