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Standing Ovation, Seated

What was there before movies? Books, of course. People used to read books, because books were telling stories.

But there were also paintings in that dark, pre-movie world. Until the 17th century, paintings had been illustrating holy texts, or ancient myths, that is stories created outside of a painting. A painting would aim to illustrate the climax of the story chosen as its subject, adding here and there a few symbols linked to the story’s beginning or end.

It was the 17th century Holland that saw the start of mass-production of the first “genre” paintings, showing lives of burghers, their wives, maids and boat rowers. I will talk about it some day. Russian artists in the 19th century picked up the baton of “genre” painting to produce a gallery of ironic, compassionate, satiric, sarcastic and mildly offensive pictures of Russian life. Most of stories narrated in those paintings are not relevant…

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