There is a group of four small paintings that are part of my current exhibition at the Fenimore Art Museum. They represent the very earliest pieces that showed the way for all of the work that followed, establishing a format and look that I had been seeking in vain up until the time that these pieces arrived. This little painting is titled Babette’s Feast and is the first indicator of the Red Roof paintings that were to come in later years as well as one of the first pieces that featured a path that leads into the picture plane, a feature of many of my recent paintings. It is also one of my wife’s treasured pieces.
The title, which was given to this painting by my wife after the title of one of her favorite movies, a 1987 Danish film and Academy Award winner for best Foreign Film that is based on a story from Danish writer, Isak Dinesen, best known for her autobiographical tale Out of Africa. It is a wonderful tale set in a 19th century village in Denmark and, without getting into all of the details of the film, has great humor, beauty and humanity. You can read a pretty good synopsis of the film on Wikipedia.
One of the docents at the museum asked me about the title and, knowing the film, commented that it fit the piece perfectly. That was a gratifying comment for me even though the painting was not done with any thought of the movie. And even though I see different significance in this little painting, especially as a precursor for what was to come, it is a great compliment to have a piece bring to mind a favorable comparison with such an evocative and stirring film.