1/28/13: The Definitive Work
Les Raboteurs de Parquet (Floor Scrapers) , Gustave Caillebotte
Dubbed “The definitive work of Modern Art”, “Floor Scrapers” has some deep meanings held in a seemingly simple scene. The painting depicts a trio of workers, as the work suggests, scraping off the varnish from the wood floor. The light illuminating the workers and their work area serves as the organizing principle of composition, marking the work as impressionistic and accenting parts to be paid extra attention. The light highlights the scrapers as well as the work they are doing, creating focal points from the two. Naturally, what makes this work so significant is the combination of the two elements in reference to society. The scrapers themselves are not what would have been considered suitable subjects, as they are neither historical figures, nor are they rustic farmers. The fact that they have been painted in such a praiseworthy manner would have disgusted members of higher society. On top of that, the scraping that they are doing holds metaphorical/symbolic meaning for art. The floor that has been scraped away is more illuminated than the sections of floor that still retains varnish, which symbolizes that like wood scraping, art is being stripped of the darkness of its academic past and illuminating the path to modern art.