Vizcaya as Text

“Affluence”, by Anna Buntova of FIU at Vizcaya on October 24, 2021

What is there that money cannot buy? Can a richman lose anything besides their reputation? How can being perpetually satisfied make you more creative? Walking through the Italian Renaissance-inspired villa called Vizcaya with its lavish rooms and breath-taking garden on October 13, I was inspired to answer these questions. The man behind this masterpiece is James Deering who was prescribed by his doctor to move to a tropical climate due to his anemia. Therefore, he commissioned the construction of this entire villa. The construction was finished in 1916 with the celebration and opening party.

Photograph taken by Anna Buntova/ CC BY 4.0

As one can fathom of an affluent man, James Deering would oftentimes walk around in his white suit and a glass of rum in his hand. He had no family of his own and had nobody living with him except Afro-Caribbean workers who maintained and groomed the gardens. Sometimes he would host parties for guests occasionally. What was so fascinating is how much “stuff” he had in his villa. I almost thought of it as a humongous attic stuffed with relics,  souvenirs, and antiquities. Each of his rooms had unique styled floors and walls and chandeliers and artistry ranging from Renaissance to Baroque to Gothic style to Rococo. Some floors and ceilings represented symmetry and some had asymmetric patterns. The large spaces were open and illuminated to let the ocean breeze right outside of the villa to enter inside and colorful stained glass would reflect different color shapes on the floor. In just one room he gathered various cultural objects such as an organ, an instrument used in Catholic churches,  that he never played, and a 600-year old carpet on the wooden slant support representing the fusion of Muslim and Christian religions right on the opposite side.  It seems like he was obsessed with the idea of love and passion evidenced by how some of the spaces contain floral wallpapers and paintings with cupids and angels gazing down from the ceiling. Vizcaya gardens are the representation of the supremacy of humans over nature because even the bushes were trimmed in a very unusual style almost as if a barber was creating intricate haircuts. Nature would never achieve such precision and clear-cut edges.  To think that all of that belongs to one man is bizarre. What does it feel like to get everything that a person thinks of materialized right away? Maybe this man felt overly entitled and dignified, but it also made me feel as if he was not fulfilled.

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