by Frederic Remington
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ART OF THE GAMES ROOM
1976 OLYMPICS ⎔ COWBOY ⎔ DENVER FLOOD ⎔ JACKSON HOLE ⎔ MYSTERIES ⎔ NATIONAL WESTERN STOCK SHOW ⎔ SKI BROADMOOR ⎔ STEAMBOAT SKI POSTER ⎔ STEAMBOAT SPRINGS ⎔ VAIL LAST RUN
Seen behind the twins in the games room, in two shots, across 23 seconds (21:47-21:53 + 21:57-22:10).
Frederic Remington was one of the most successful Western illustrators in the “Golden Age” of illustration at the end of the 19th century. He’s credited as being one of the only artists to delve deep and authentically into the American West to capture the scenes of the vanishing “old west”.
He also used cameras and photos to make more realistic art, for which he was criticized. His paintings of horses captured their true gait and physicality in a way that wasn’t done previously. He was a friend of Theodore Roosevelt, and this painting captures Roosevelt’s idea (people apparently felt) of the cowboy as self-reliant hero of the dawn of America. This piece was bought by a friend, after Remington quoted an outrageous price, and after months of not cashing the cheque, Remington used the cheque to light their cigars one night, and said the transaction was complete. This is a very anti-capitalist approach to art.
Kubrick, however, was described as a capitalist by his friend and biographer Michael Kerr, and perhaps that’s how Kubrick saw himself. If so, this inclusion might be a mild jab at Remington’s frivolous nature, because I actually found two other versions of this artwork before landing on the real one, and almost attributed it to one AJ Steiner. The version in the movie is clearly a reproduction for some kind of…what? Advertisement? Promotional? Did the Remington family receive anything for its usage here?
This reminds me of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which is one of the most repeatedly adapted-to-screen stories of all time, and contains innumerable icons that people have invoked in various media. They do this without fear of copyright law because the copyright on Alice came up a short 42 years after its publication, making it possible for people to co-opt its forms for their own purposes. In fact, that was in 1907, the year the Overlook began construction. I read in some book ages ago that this is likely a big part of its enduring popularity, that the story was legally flexible, and no one needed to be concerned with paying the Carroll family royalties. Well, it seems like a similar story with The Cowboy, which, if you do an image search on, brings up all kinds of usages on various book covers and whatnot.
I noticed it used as a cover for Jack London’s Hearts of Three (republished by Scribner’s as part of a cowboy anthology in 1902), and doesn’t that almost sound like an Alice reference? Some have the whole image reversed left-to-right (like in the above comic book segment), so it would be interesting if the reproduction in the film is from an actual rip-off. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s just something Kubrick commissioned to make this point: this is a twin painting. Same with the SKI MONARCH poster, which does seem heavily inspired by a real skiing ad, with a similar aesthetic. Also, the poster between the girls has a design that looks like a lot of Colorado ads from the time, but doesn’t seem to be any of them. Also, I couldn’t actually find an ad that was exactly like the Steamboat ad we see in this room (with all the apparent text). So I’m wondering if that’s part of the point with this room. These are all twin images. I was able to identify at least one of the paintings we see behind Danny, which I think implies that Danny’s perspective is, therefore, real. Realer than the twins, anyway.
There’s almost too much to say about how the games room posters generally speak to the Grady Twin Paintings on the other side here, and I think I’ve covered that sufficiently in my analysis of those paintings.
But just while I’m on the subject of Alice in Wonderland, note that the girls here resemble the way Alice looked in the original publication of the book, with darker hair. Perhaps this speaks to how Kubrick cast raven-haired Shelley Duvall to play the “golden” locked Wendy Torrance, as I discuss in the section on the boy and girl knitting (a knitting that also happens to resemble the twins here). But also, on the other side of the film here, Tony/Danny is REDRUMing his way past a copy of Crime and Punishment. That story was theorized to have a kind of mirrorform construction to the writing, as is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland when paired with Alice’s Adventures Through the Looking Glass. So these two mirrorform stories being invoked right across from each other, in rooms that contain the twins and the Grady Twin Paintings, and featuring a games room that has these five butterfly-esque posters spanning it (Steamboat-bullman-flood-cowboy-Steamboat), seems to me like one of the best indications that the mirrorform is an intentional phenomenon.
Next art reference: National Western Stock Show & Rodeo
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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