– Autumn/Winter 2005

Waiting, Thinking, Drinking: A Conversation about Patrick Caulfield's Interiors

Thomas Lawson, Katherine Lewis

I know that I've seen this painting somewhere before. The jovial mix of a flat-coloured, hard-lined interior with the pitch-perfect mountain view through the window. I go home; I rifle through my shelves to get to that 'a-ha' moment. I reach it when I pull out the Routledge Companion to AestheticsAfter Lunch from 1975, owned by Tate Modern in London. (2001), a hastily purchased book meant to help my transition into art school. There it is on the cover, all cool and funny with a small trapezoid of Romanticism pushed to its left edge: Patrick Caulfield's

Shortly thereafter I realise that this, too, is hasty. I feel as if I know it in some other way. Of course, the black-outlined chairs and brightly painted café recall some easily retrieved examples of American pop art, but that is not enough. What about that strange light under the table? I guess that is the door out of this place, but I cannot leave yet with the rest of the interior still to explore. The aquarium: the small globs of bright orange double as fish and suggest a tightened-up version of Matisse's fish bowl. I finally realise that it is that scene out of the window. It is not that I actually have been to the Château de Chillon in Switzerland, but I am sure that it, or something nearly identical, appeared in one of the many jigsaw puzzles that my family worked on together in the holiday season during my childhood.1 Such images were an escape from the snowed in, not-so-idyllic suburbs of Chicago, and marked a destination in two senses: to get to

  1. Marco Livingstone, 'Perspectives on Painting: Seven Essays on the Art of Patrick Caulfield', Patrick Caulfield, London: Hayward Gallery, 1999, p.15

  2. Anne Seymour, 'Patrick Caulfield', Junge Englander, Marks on Canvas (exh. cat.), Kunstverein Hannover, 1969, p.18

  3. David Batchelor, Chromophobia, London: Reaktion Books, 2000, pp.22-23

  4. 'Rust Never Sleeps' was the slogan for Rustoleum, a rust-retarding treatment long-available in the UK and Canada. Both Caulfield and Young refer to this in their respective works. It is unlikely that the painting has anythingto do with the album.

  5. M. Livingstone, op. cit., p.19