Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Starry Doorknobs

Unless you have been living on Mars for the last 50 years, you must have seen, or at least heard about, Van Gogh’s most famous painting The Starry Night (Dutch: De Sterrenacht). Painted in 1881, it shows the village of Saint-Remy outside his sanitarium room window. Although a night scene, the swirling sky with stars and moon was painted from memory during the day; the cypress tree and the hills were added from other locations. Don MacLean wrote about the work in  his song Vincent (aka Starry Starry Night). 

Unlike other letters to his brother, Theo Van Gogh, Vincent made little comment about the work. This may be due to his erratic behaviour at the time, behaviour that had led to his commitment. He did say that there was “exaggerations in terms of composition” and that "I should not be surprised if you liked the Starry Night and the Ploughed Fields, there is a greater quiet about them than in the other canvases."

Which is all by way of introduction to a different depiction of Starry Night, a mural by David Goldberg. In a style that has been referred to as Post-Door Hardwareism, Goldberg’s mural is located outside his Union Hardware store in Bethesda, Maryland, US. The store has sold decorative plumbing and hardware products since 1914 and, over the years, store owner Goldberg has collected second hand door knobs, levers, and back plates from Italy, Germany and the U.S. He also has items from discontinued lines. Goldberg applied 1,250 of the reclaimed and discontinued doorknobs, backplates and levers to painted PVC board, also old and reclaimed, to make a mural that I find quite impressive: 

A tradition has developed of rubbing the Italian Chrome Leaver in the centre of the swirl:

Folklore holds that the person doing the rubbing will then dine on a sumptuous pasta dinner. 

One person remarked online that the only thing that could make this mural cooler is if only ONE of the doorknobs could be turned to open a secret door to Narnia.

“There are no fans of decorative artwork in hardware. 
I need to ride on the coattails of the art world.”

“When I look at this, I see levers.” 
(Commenting on Van Gogh’s swirling brush strokes).

-David Goldberg


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