Putting The 'High' in High Art: 'Little Girl in a Blue Armchair' by Mary Cassatt

City Paper

Sometime between nearly drooling on the Vermeers and feeling majorly oppressed by a wood-paneled gallery full of way-larger-than-life society portraits of rich nobility (hung at such a height that you MUST look up at them and their satin and fur robes, like the sad pauper that you are), I found the 19th-century French paintings and oh boy, did my heart explode a little bit when I finally laid eyes on Mary Cassatt’s ‘Little Girl in a Blue Armchair.’ I don’t even think I took a second to look at it from a distance, to consider the whole composition of the blobs of blue furniture, I just got right up to it to look at the paint. Unmixed shades of blue, red, and yellow peek in through the child’s plaid socks, blanket, and bow, while her slouching, pinkish figure, dressed in white, cozies into the blue armchair among the sea of blue furniture in this room. I can’t help or disguise my entirely subjective admiration of this painting, and when I look at it I let myself wade through childhood memories of Sunday afternoons, and sunlight through the window catching dust particles, and venetian blinds clattering in the open windows in our old blue living room. 

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