by Valentin Lustig

This attempt to explain my painting will make it quite easily readable as the illustration of a certain thought, but as always in such cases caution should be taken: this thought, in its present, clear-cut form, is the result of discussions I had with visitors
to my studio and who saw the canvas AFTER I finished it. Yet WHILE working on it my ideas were much less precise, and consequently warmer, deeper and more mysterious.
This is an unavoidable and unpleasant contradiction: too good explanations tend to discourage the viewer from adding his or her own poetical intuitions to the meaning suggested by the image and its title. Anyway:

  • the isolated figure to the right, with its fox-like head (perhaps a mask), if not the Demiurg, the Creator of the whole scene, is at least in sort of a command and control position. His powers compare to those of PROSPERO in Shakespeare's Tempest – the whole scene is in fact very much theatre-like.

Not only our Fox-Prospero, almost everybody is gazing in the same direction, they all seem to want the same thing, to be united by a secret CONSENSUS about what the object of their desire should be, and this is the Blue House visible in the foreground.

The Blue House is ... Happiness. (A friend of mine told me once: ‘Happiness has somehow to do with Love, and Love needs a house in order to unfold.’)
  • Within this multitude, the prominent young nude couple seems to be the most qualified to attain it. Note the hand on the girl's left shoulder. It is slightly out of proportion ONLY if we suppose it to be the boy's hand. This hand is a direct quotation from Michelangelo's Creation of Adam. Unlike Adam's hand this one is being actually touched by the girl's fingers, i.e., erotic fulfillment has been attained.

And yet happiness is out of their reach, just as it is out of the reach of anybody else around – the dancers, the elder couple, etc. – because the Blue House is much too small, nobody can possibly fit into it.

  • But the desire to hide in the Blue House is boundless, and our Prospero, perhaps out of pity, makes use of his magical powers. A miracle happens and the multitude, after a free fall into the microscopic, has now the fitting size to get nearer and nearer to its goal. They run around the Blue House, touch it from the outside, but... even now none of them manages to enter it: the entrance-door remains closed.

Could it be that they (and even their magician) are all wrong?
Could it be that after all THIS one is not the right, the true Blue House?
- The painting's title talks about A Blue House, but a second, identical Blue House is visible in the distance. It is smaller yes, its entrance-door is also closed, but compared to its surroundings it is better proportioned, it is at least usable. Is THAT Blue House the real thing, in other words: is Happiness possible and is it only our fault if confused, misled by conventions and conformism we pursue Happiness in the wrong direction?

America’s Founding Fathers, wise and clever as they were, did NOT proclaim in their famous list of self-evident truths each and every human being's right to DEFINE for himself or for others what Happiness is, but only the right to pursue it.

  • The second Blue House looks almost as if it belonged to a different, unattainable realm. Only the little girl with the doll is positioned in such a way that it is within her powers to find her way towards ANY of the two houses. This makes her the true heroine of the whole composition.

Only she has the choice.
A psychologist who has seen the original confirmed to me that
a thumb in the mouth is an unmistakable sign of loneliness.

Difficult decision making does provoke loneliness.
- Behind the girl a couple of snails is slowly advancing towards the second Blue House.

Only these two snails, nobody else.
Are THEY at least going to find happiness, to find their way and hide in a Blue House? The painting doesn't tell us, the entrance-door to the second Blue House is also closed. But we have reason to be hopeful about those two snails.

They both carry the burden of their past upon their backs.
They are experienced, they are skeptical.
This gives them the strength to follow their own path and ignore the opinion of the multitude. They have a real chance to find their Blue House BECAUSE THEY DO NOT REALLY NEED ONE: as snails they already have houses of their own!