My single personal favorite is “Black and White Café.” That one, even with the yellow ceiling, and “Pipe and Jug” bring me full circle to my first Caulfield purchase. Cool and serene yet evocative of so many experiences, moods and emotions. Art that is part of one’s life.
A few final comments: the human figure appears in only three of Caufield’s prints, two of which appear in this show – “The Hermit” and “Portrait of a Frenchman.” The latter is a thoroughly compelling yet almost cartoon-like image that seems to go exceptionally well with “Black and White Café.” The color of light in the window represents the Pernot or Ricard the man has been drinking – evidently for some time as the rather alarming color of his face suggests. The black beret and the Gaulic nose – he’s French without a doubt; no one need tell us. The cut of the coat and that shirt buttoned up under his chin – clearly a workman. And that hint of a little railing behind the seat, a tiny touch that is so classically French. A simple image yet one absolutely packed with information.
“The Hermit” one the other hand, is a puzzle. A salient feature of Caulfield’s prints is that he could, and likely did, directly observe the subject matter. But could this be true of the hermit? It doesn’t seem likely, particularly given the perspective the artist has chosen. This was the second print Caulfield made – about three years after his first -- and it launched a period of fairly intense output. Yet except for the flat color fields and black outlines, it seems unconnected with everything that followed. Go figure.
Why did I buy "The Hermit?" I liked the colors. I was decorating a playroom/family room mainly in primary colors – as sort of a tribute to Piet Mondrian and the utopian hopes of the de Stijl school. To me, it seemed to fit right in, although I’m not sure anyone else ever agreed.