What is a Still Life?
Still life is a genre of art that includes objects such as fruits, vegetables, animals, flowers, wine and others. This can symbolize the celebration of material pleasures such as food and wine, or a reminder of the ephemeral nature of these pleasures and the shortness of human life. In the hierarchy of art genres established in the 17th century by the French Academy, still life occupied the last, fifth place, after historical painting, portrait, genre painting (scenes from everyday life) and landscape. Thus, still life and landscape were considered humble because they did not involve human and grandiose subjects of history. In modern art, this genre was often used for formal experiments, by various artists such as Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, among others. Discover five stunning still life works in this article.
Sunflowers of Van Gogh, 1888
Between 1886 and 1887, still lifes were the subject of many drawings, sketches and paintings by Vincent van Gogh, in which he introduced into the composition the knowledge and influences he gained from the main artists of impressionism, pointillism, Japanese art, the Ukiyo- and and woodcut engravings. A gradual expressive variety in colors was manifested, by introducing more vivid pigments, as can be seen in works with flowers, where he experimented with colors, light and even painting techniques.
The Basket of Apple by Paul Cézanne, 1893
This painting, one of Paul Cézanne's rare signed works, was part of an important exhibition produced by Parisian art dealer Ambroise Vollard in 1895. In The Basket of Apples , it is understood that Paul Cézanne in search of underlying structure and composition, he recognized that he was not required to represent objects as he sees them in real space. The structure and inclined composition of the table painted with the basket of apples and a bottle, in an impossible rectangle without right angles, explains this artist's freedom from perspective and relationship with reality. Solid brushstrokes with bright colors give the composition a density and dynamism impossible of a realistic still life.
Still Life with Geranium by Henri Matisse, 1906
Like Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse recognized that he was not obliged to represent objects as he sees them in real space. In Still Life with Geranium , the still life is almost transformed into a landscape, which is represented with strong colors, thick paint and quick brushstrokes, characteristics similar to the Fauvism artistic movement. This is one of many still life paintings in which Matisse has incorporated his own figurative sculptures. Henri Matisse defied artistic expectations by creating his figures with minimal colors and simple lines. These were later made in bronze editions: Woman Leaning on Her Hands and Thorn Extractor .
Still Life by Pablo Picasso, 1914
From 1912 onwards, Pablo Picasso began to build works that questioned the three-dimensionality of painting. This composition is closely linked to this issue and to the compositions created at the time. The incorporation of objects found in works of art helped to establish a new freedom in the choice of materials for artists. This work questions the limits of painting and highlights the freedom obtained from the avant-garde.
Sandwich and Soda by Roy Lichtenstein, 1964
Sandwich and Soda is a portrait of mid-20th century American culture. Roy Lichtenstein created this artwork representing two extremely common objects in 1960s American art: the sandwich and the soda. Sandwich and Soda evokes the idealized nature of commercials with a color scheme tied to the flag of the United States of America. With his comic-inspired pieces, Roy Lichtenstein has become one of the most iconic artists in American Pop Art.