What makes a good still life? Is it the gloss of the apples, the fuzziness of the peaches? The lustre of flower petals? The apparent ripeness of the fruit spilling out of a perfectly woven basket? The dappled light? No fruit or flowers at all? Should the subject necessarily be something that was once alive? Is still life painting still an art school mainstay? Perhaps the Still Life folder in the SVA Pictures Collection can answer some of these questions. Still life painting is not nearly as popular as it was back in the age of the Dutch Masters, although contemporary artists like Chloe Wise and Susan Jane Walp engage with the tradition. Still life paintings romanticize, or simply celebrate the banal, the mundane. They imbue something as everyday as an apple (assuming you’re following the doctor’s orders) with a richness and splendour previously relegated to the realm of religious art. The everyday, through still life, thus becomes a subject worthy of contemplation - a shift that corresponds art historically to a larger cultural movement in the West towards secularization.
Mar 13 2018