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An Introduction to Still Life


Still Life Artists


  • Over the centuries artists have chosen the subject of still life for a variety of reasons: to reflect the status of their owner, be it humble or haughty; for their symbolic meaning which reveals a hidden story or idea; to capture the natural beauty of transient object like a flower or fruit; to demonstrate the artist's skilled painting technique; or as a controlled structure to express the abstract qualities of the visual elements.
  • Traditionally, still life is the drawing and painting of items such as fruit, flowers and household objects, which are usually arranged on a table top.
  • Willem Kalf painted still lifes which reflected the opulent lifestyle and status of their owner.
  • Harmen Steenwyck illustrated objects that communicated a hidden message to the viewer.
  • Henri Matisse intensified our experience of fruit, flowers and exotic artifacts with his expressive use of colour.
  • Juan Gris used still life to experiment with the way we perceive objects in space and time.
  • Giorgio Morandi creates calm, sensitive still lifes which are the product of deep contemplation and observation over a considerable period of time.
  • Still life as a subject has provided a platform for artists of different eras to explore their relationship with the world of objects that surround us.
  • As our world evolves, new products, artefacts and modern media will continue to suggest new avenues for the stylistic development and reinvention of still life as a subject in art.

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'Van Gogh's Chair' (1888) by Vincent Van Gogh.

'Van Gogh's Chair' (1888) by Vincent Van Gogh.