A Closet Door
Oil on canvas
40 1/4 x 30 1/8 in.
signed, u.l.: John F Peto [as a compositional device]
[see file for old label information]
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas
Portraying letters, notes, and assorted mementos pinned to a door with strips of fabric, A Closet Door functions as an indirect form of self-portraiture. In the top left, an illusionistic rendering of Peto’s name carved in wood indicates that the items on display belong to the artist. But their personal significance is not obvious. An envelope postmarked “Philadelphia” refers to the city of Peto’s birth, but what to make of the folded almanac, portrait of George Washington, or novel by Catherine Crowe? There are no immediate clues as to how these items relate to Peto’s life or interests. Instead, the picture offers signs of wear and loss, including a broken hinge, the remnants of a torn orange card, and the frayed fabric of the letter rack. Presenting an array of personal items without a clarifying context, A Closet Door hints at the ways meaning can fade from objects over time.
—Text taken from the Carter Handbook (2023)