Tableau by Robert & Sara Genn

Tableau by Robert & Sara Genn

Yalitza Aparicio (center) in Roma.
Yalitza Aparicio (center) in Roma

The Painter’s Keys – Letter

“You have a first image,” said Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón, when describing his inspiration for his new film, Roma. “You just know that it is always going to be there. You don’t question that.” In Roma, almost every scene is meticulously composed and timed in a wide-angle tableau of human drama and staggering beauty. Drawn exclusively from Cuarón’s childhood memories, the film is shot from the perspective of his beloved nanny, Libo, and tells the story of her inner and outer life as an indigenous Mixtec domestic worker in 1970s Mexico City.

In painting and still photography, “tableau” is a figurative scene where characters are arranged in a composition to maximize beauty and dramatic effect. Originally a response to the conventions of portraiture, tableau characters are absorbed in the drama of a scene and unaware of the existence of a viewer. French philosopher Denis Diderot assigned the term in the 18th Century to distinguish paintings that are beautifully composed, but still feel natural and believable, and include the important feature of…

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The Painter’s Keys is published primarily by a team of volunteers, with a goal to reach as many creative people as possible.


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