by Alex Colville
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ART OF THE LOUNGE
AHWAHNEEE HOTEL ⎔ BOG OAK ⎔ COOPER’S HAWK ⎔ GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL ⎔ HOUND IN FIELD ⎔ IRISH SETTER ⎔ TATÂNGA MÂNÎ PORTRAIT
Seen behind the Abbey Road Tour as they turn toward the camera at the east end of the Colorado Lounge, over Jack’s left shoulder, here (21:11-21:23). This piece is never seen clearly again, but it is passed (off-screen) by Danny, and Wendy streaks by it (59:38) on her race toward nightmare Jack. Danny trikes by it in his circle ride, and it’s actually directly behind him as we first see him walk toward his parents after 237. Wendy will carry him off in the exact direction of it after discovering his bruises.
For general thoughts on Colville, whose work appears five times in the film, go here.
The lighting is wonky—the dog and ground and background trees all appear to be at different light levels. And Danny is emerging, in silhouette almost, from a room with a painting that makes significant use of backlighting.
This was one of the hardest pieces to ID. The whites on the dog match up with the whites of the snow, and even where the green grass crosses the dog’s upper legs area, there seems to extend a shadow over the dog. The only part that really stands out in the blurry film version is the black rump, which for the longest time I thought might be a squatting bear, or even a tree stump. Point being: I really think Kubrick wanted this to be a tough one. In fact, there’s a really tough one at every corner of the lounge area. The other three are on the upper floors: Battle of Sisters Creek was next to impossible, A Man of Van Diemen’s Land has a 50% chance of being wrong, and there’s one up the hall from Sister’s Creek that we only see the bottom edge of a corner, rendering it unidentifiable.
The piece hangs beside a painting of an Irish setter, possibly by Colville’s close friend Dr. Avery Vaughan. So, while Colville was never associated with any big artist collective, he and Vaughan would famously meet in one another’s studios to talk shop and share ideas. I mention this because the first artworks I was ever able to (easily) ID were largely by artists who were part of collectives. As I’ve researched the harder artists to ID, I’ve realized that connections exist between them, but they were harder to trace. The exception in the “easy” days was Colville, who I recognized from being a Canadian, and having had Colville in my own home as a child, I suppose – actually the first time I ever remembered being wowed by a piece of art in a museum was seeing the original Horse and Train on a class trip. Colville, for many moons, was the most solitary-seeming of the major artists invoked by the film, so to have one (potentially) by his good friend, and to have it be so obscure, seems to suggest Kubrick wanted to create a false sense of dichotomy between the “collectivist” artists and the “loner” artists. One that would, and does, erode as one makes the identifications and does the research. So, it’s impossible to say if Kubrick knew it would be easier to trace the collectives, but it does make for a fascinating byproduct in this art detective’s efforts – the lesson seems more and more clear: everything is connected to everything. And to think like a Jack Torrance, who thinks great art can only be achieved in isolation, is to make a serious blunder.
Also, this is (apparently) one of the only pieces for which he didn’t make geometric drawings, according to an art site…which I made no note of, so I guess you’ll have to take my word on that, because I can’t seem to track it down again. Sorry. Though I must say, it looks like it would have a certain geometry to it. I’m honestly only keeping this note because his friend Vaughan painted in the “old masters” (non-geometric) style, and I’m wondering if Kubrick selected this piece to emphasize Vaughan’s impact on Colville’s art.
The dog is a beagle, which means that all three Colville dogs are different breeds (Terrier, Beagle, Golden Retriever). More significantly, a “Beagle” is what Charles Darwin sailed on, after being inspired by John Gould, whose artworks appear in room 237. Also, there’s an etching almost directly across from Hound and Field and up a level, called A Man of Van Diemen’s Land, which was a place where Darwin made port during his Beagle voyages.
Composed the same year as Dog, Boy and St. John River, seen inside 237. Danny is never visibly on screen with a Colville, and the closest we see him get to one is Dog, Boy and St. John River, which features a dog and a boy. When Danny emerges from 237, he’s walking straight out from Hound in Field, and moments later, he and Wendy mimic Woman and Terrier. Since the other two don’t feature a boy, this would make Tony the consistent dog figure of these works.
The snow on the ground vaguely suggests number symbols, so that from a distance it looks like a giant number 3, which the painting next to it also does, but with a different colour. In the Treachery of Images analysis, this scene involves Danny approaching two F21 photos equalling 33. Coincidence? For those familiar with my Aarne-Thompson (AT) findings, an AT 33 type story is one where The Fox Plays Dead and Escapes from the Pit. And there is a tonne of fox imagery around room 237, seemingly in reference to our dead-playing 237 ghost. As for her escaping from the pit, she does appear at the ghost ball later, so that could make sense. But I’m wondering if Danny might also be one who escaped by playing dead. King never really accounts for how Danny slipped loose of Lorraine Massey’s ghost grasp, despite her grip being powerful enough to leave bruises, or why she wouldn’t just come after him to finish the job later, if that’s what it was all about. So I think Kubrick smartly played into the notion that the hotel didn’t want to kill Danny for the 237 violation as much as it wanted to sow discord among the Torrances. He then, smartly, made the point of this the luring of Dick Hallorann.
The only action of the piece is that a dog is turning. Is this a reference to Danny’s lessons and escapes? As he beelines away from the Colville, he’s just received all the lessons and the two keys. For the rest of the film he’ll be largely stationary, and/or hijacked by Tony – in fact, the mirror moment for the gang passing the painting is the start of Tony’s own REDRUM drawing. His final “lesson”, as it were, to Wendy and Danny about the nature of what they need to do next.
So Danny’s major function from this point on is to enact the final escape pattern. Danny is more associated to birds than anything, I think, but when it comes to the Colville dogs, Danny does seem more a factor.
That said, the image from the film that most reminds me of the painting is where Jack’s arching through the lobby after having slain Dick, having become the hotel’s dog, curving in the same clockwise motion as Colville’s beagle (Wendy and Danny also make such broad turns when she’s moving between radio rooms, or when Danny’s escaping the maze, but both are making counterclockwise turns in those moments). And what should be happening on the other side but Wendy standing in the exact same outfit as the puppet of the cartoon dog Goofy, while a red-and-blue hound dog is on the art piece at her side (ignore the red box – I took this image from an unrelated study). Since I see dogs as representing the Overlook’s interests, perhaps Jack mimicking Hound and Field here, right after killing Dick is to mark how complicit all the Torrances are in helping the Overlook achieve its ends.
Next art reference: Irish Setter Painting
MAIN PAGE ⎔ SECTION PAGE ⎔ SITE MAP ⎔ GLOSSARY
OTHER MAIN PAGES FOR SHINING ANALYSIS
THE MIRRORFORM ⎔ THE BEATLES ⎔ THE RUM AND THE RED
BACKGROUND ART ⎔ OVERLOOK PHOTOGRAPHS ⎔ GOLDEN SPIRALS
PHI GRIDS ⎔ PATTERNS ⎔ VIOLENCE AND INDIGENA ⎔ ABSURDITIES
THE STORY ROOM ⎔ ANIMAL SYMBOLS ⎔ THE ANNOTATED SHINING