Still Life is what it says on the tin - Still Life. Usually painting everyday commonplace objects - fruit, bowls, bottles, food, wine, fabric, flowers, and other household objects, often arranged on a table.These are all fundamental to both the object and subject of the still life painting, drawing or print.
Historically the still life demonstrated highly skilled artistry in the seeing shape and light, colour and texture, usually in oil paint, created by the handing of paint, whether precise and layered, or loose impasto. Famously the Dutch were at the forefront of this genre, being highly valued by rising entrepreneurs and traders wishing to celebrate the material and familiar known world- perhaps a declaration of personal wealth as Europe moved into urbanisation.
Conversely, the ephemeral nature of consumerism and indeed life itself,was symbolised in a particular form of still life, known as memento mori, with human skulls, candles, clocks, withering fruit or flowers and dead animals and fish,A critique on human vanity or worldly pleasures (Vanitas).
From Cezanne onwardsthe artist choose to jettison much ofthis loaded history, using still
life to project their own formal or informal considerations with seeing and doing.Is it an apple or a sphere? Breaking with the tradition of a dark background, the impressionists reinterpreted the still life particularly inspired with colour, such as Van Gogh sunflowers.
The modernist hyperrealistic, trompe-l’oeil,the surreal,photorealism high definition paintings, as well as pop art(Roy Lichtenstein, Warhol) all developed and redefined the still life. More recently turned on its head with the likes of Hursts ‘For the Love of God’ - diamond encrusted scull, or with contemporary artist Ori Gersht who captured on camera an exploding areplica still life based on a Fantain Latuour painting.
The weird and wonderful is as much a part of still life as history painting.
It is an endless genre to explore and enjoy, many artists cutting their teeth with the still life set up.