The concept of the ideal home was one of the platforms of our society and the American Dream. But in the beginning a home was a just a shelter from the harsh weather found in nature “Nature was not considered a gentle, inspiring force to be courted…the wall of the house was decidedly a barrier to the outside.” (Wright, 12) This blockade from the outside world was the ideal home at one time. But from this understanding a home became many interpretations, as seen throughout neighborhoods and cities. There are Mac-Mansions, apartments, condos, or just a simple town home. “A man’s house is his art-at least a house is the nearest to art that most men will ever come.” (Winton, 1) With this the home is specialized and characterized by those who live in it and by those who see it as what it is a work of art.
|"Make a Wish Cottage" by Thomas Kinkade|
Thomas Kinkade shows his views of homes, placed in rural secluded areas, surrounded by surreal aspects of the space around the home. His homes show a Disney-like sense of bliss with warm colors and perfect landscape. In this piece entitled “Make a Wish Cottage”, he shows a rustic old cottage nestled in the woods with flowered bushes and a warm light glow from within. You can almost see the happiness pouring from the home and the comfort found within this ideal home. In this portrayal you are in a safe haven from the outside within a perfect setting.
|"A Hometown Morning" by Thomas Kinkade|
“A Hometown Morning” by Thomas Kincaid’s is similar style and feel but this time in a more crowded dimension where the hues and colors are the same warm blissful feeling. The homes still offer this yellow glow but now we see a whole neighborhood with a family walking down the street. Depicted is a lively neighborhood close to a church and even a few pets running through yards with white picket fences. This is the superb suburb where neighbors are friendly and welcoming, church is nearby, and everyone knows everyone type of home. "Concepts of the home as a private refuge, a place of peace and inspiration, became something more that abstract images."(Wright, 107)
"Three Windows" and "House 9" by Charles Ritchie
|"Snow" by Charles Ritchie|
In contrast, we have Charles Ritchie, who portrays the home and neighborhoods in a night setting, where homes show an almost eerie bit of light that’s not warm or comforting. There is more of a mysterious sense offered in his paintings. Such as this work entitled “Three Windows” and "House 9" the homes are barely illuminated with cold dark tones. The houses don’t give off a haven like feel from the outside but a more cut off from the world shut in neighborhood.
In "Snow" by Ritchie we see someone looking upon his neighbors from the inside of a home as a barrier from the outside with reflections of what's inside along the window pane. This one lacks any lights on inside homes just light from a street lamp illuminating the few leaf-less trees. Ritchie’s works relate back to the puritan concepts where “Surveillance of one another was necessary.”(Wright, 12) His homes show the outside as dark and ominous almost like a warning to leave your sanctuary.
In Hayden, from Kathleen Ann Mackie in speaking of the ideal home: “home distinguishes “familiarity from strangeness, security from insecurity, certainty from doubt, order from chaos, comfort from adventure, settlement from wandering, here from away.” (Hayden, 145) We see in comparison of Kinkade and Ritchie that ideal homes give security, familiarity, order, comfort, and settlement. We see more comfort from our perspective from Kinkade’s works but Ritchie shows that his views on the home are a more dreary approach to some but to him they are representations of the houses he sees and how he perceives them. His works show more of a fear to the outside and the unknown even within your own neighborhood. Is his home ideal? To some who have a fear of the unknown this is an accurate depiction of their home, secluded, separate, and safe.
Hayden, Dolores. Redesigning the American Dream: The Future of Housing, Work, and Family Life. New York: W.W. Norton, 1984.
Griffith Winton, A. "'A Man's House Is His Art': The Walker Art Center's Idea House Project and the Marketing of Domestic Design 1941-1947." Journal of Design History 17.4 (2004): 377-96.
Wright, Gwendolyn. Building the Dream: A Social History of Housing in America. New York: Pantheon, 1981.