signed and dated lower right Christopher Pratt Nov. 73; signed, titled and dated on the reverse
Private Collection, Ontario
Joyce Zemans, Christopher Pratt, A Retrospective, Vancouver, 1986, p. 50, reproduced
David P. Silcox, introduction, Christopher Pratt, Personal Reflections on A Life in Art, Toronto, 1995, p. 88, reproduced
Jeffrey Spalding, introduction, Christopher Pratt, All My Own Work, Ottawa, 2005, p. 12
Pratt's combination of architectural pattern and depiction of the female figure was often a theme in his work through the sixties and seventies. Sometimes the figure stood alone or was the prominent image in a domestic setting and sometimes the architecture stood totally on its own. In French Door, however, these two motifs reached an apogee of balance that is exceptional. By putting a nude figure behind a door that partly obscures her, Pratt has created an air of ambiguity and mystery. The door is both open and yet enclosing, and while the painting doesn't refer to the Marcel Duchamp work of the same title, nevertheless it carries the same enigmatic quality, albeit in a quite different way.
What enhances the viewer's grasp of the painting is Pratt's uncanny and meticulous attention to detail and to an intellectually complex arrangement of shapes and colours. More than two dozen rectangles make up the setting; more than a dozen colours, not including the subtle gradation across the door itself, provide the staging that gives focus, balance, contrast, and animation to the whole. A light falls gently on the mullions of the glass panes of the door and on the trim on the wainscoting and baseboard and quarter-round in the recessed hallway. Behind this scrim of sharp rectangles and muted colours is the curvaceous, misty, backlit, and hesitant nude figure, a little off centre, but the centre of it all.
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