Thursday, January 29, 2009
The Great Train Robbery is in the American collection. I'm eye level with a gun. I wonder who would come if I designed a tour around weaponry. This would be my first stop.
There is a diagonal band of killer objects. It starts lower left as a knife in the mouth of a man crouching on a swiftly moving train. He is below a stick-em-up shooter who points a gun in the faces of shadowed train riders, this happens in the very middle of the canvas. In between the knife gritted between the one man's teeth, and the gun in the hand of the other, is another knife tucked into the standing man's belt. No one in the painting wants to fight. "Are you afraid?" the painting whispers.
N.C. Wyeth dabbed cool sky blue to the underside of the robber's wind swept scarf, the swung open train door is warm pumpkin orange. A shadow is drawn over the hidden faces of surrendering riders. What a master storyteller he was.
"And then the train veered to the left." I would say, and while they thought about it, I would turn around and head down the stairs to the Asian gallery in search of some really long swords.