Research – Still life genre
In my research into the still life genre – I wanted to focus mostly on flower/fruit still life painting and use this as the basis for my work during Part 2 Intimacy – Still life.
Early in the 16th Century Joris Hoefnagel (1542-1601) played an important role in the still life genre and in particular flowers – which he painted with insects eg. Flower still life with insects (1594) – mostly as illustrations. Jacob de Ghyen II (1565-1629), a Dutch painter and engraver, painted some of the earliest flower still lifes eg. Vase of flowers with a curtain (1615).
Flower painting became was very popular in Holland at this time and another artist that specialized in Flower painting was Ambrosius Bosschaert (1573-1621) – he also incorporated religious and symbolic meanings into the paintings and included detailed bouquets typically with roses and tulips. In Christian symbolism the rose represented the Virgin Mary, the wounds of Christ and true love, whilst the tulip -wealth, prosperity and commercial trade (important to the dutch at the time).
Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568-1621) – nicknamed Flower Brueghel, created a genre of Garland Paintings which were a collaboration between still life painter and portrait painter in which a portrait (or adoration) would be surrounded with a garland of flowers eg. Madonna in floral wreath which was painted with Rubens as the portrait painter.
The flowers were painted with scientific precision and very often he painted them in the wild – commanding a higher price for this method.
Carravagio (1571-1610) was notable for his early still lifes painted for Guiseppe Cesari in his workshop/factory eg. Basket of fruit (1595/6).
In the 18th century, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (1699-1779) painted exquisite still lifes of fruit and general household items. Another still life artist at this time was Anne Vallayer-Coster (1744-1818) who due to social limitations as a woman painted still lifes of fruit and flowers eg. Vase of flowers with a bust of Flora (1774).
Goya, Courbet and Delacroix incorporated still life paintings into their body of work in the 19th Century. Monet and Renoir broke with the dark backgounds of the past eg. Still life with bouquet and fan (1871)
At the end of the 19th Century Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) painted a series of Sunflowers eg. Vase with fifteen sunflowers (1888).
He also painted a memorable self portrait in the form of a still life:
Entering the 20th Century Paul Cezanne (1839-1906), one of my all time favourite artists, unsatisfied with the impressionist movement experimented with still life colour, form and line. Eg. Still life with curtain (1895) and Still life with green melon (1895).
His work led the way for cubist still lifes with Picasso, Braque and Juan Gris (1887-1927) Eg. Nature morte (1913) Drawing on paper and Still life with flowers 1912 Oil on canvas.
Up until the 1920s Piet Mondrian painted hundreds of flower paintings – some were flower studies, particularly chrysanthemums, but others were still lifes. “I enjoyed painting flowers, not bouquets, but a single flower at a time, in order that I might better express its plastic structure.” Eg. Chrysanthemum (1908) Charcoal on paper and Amaryllis (1910) Watercolour on paper
In 1972 Roy Lichenstein (1923-1997) created his own style of still life with examples such as Still life with goldfish (1972) and Still life (1974)– a combination of styles between Matisse and Andy Warhol.
In the 21st Century, David Hockney (1937-) has produced his own modern digital flower still lifes using an ipad:
Finally looking at other artists of today, the Guardian in 2013 listed their selection of the best 10 contemporary still lifes and included the following:
Cindy Wright, Nature Morte 2 (2010) – a bloody, gutted fish coiled in a goldfish bowl with its eye staring out at the viewer.
Rebecca Scott, The Perfect Hostess (2006) – part of her The Perfect Life series in which she questions the notion of a perfect life publicised in the pages of women’s magazines and catalogues.
Peter Jones. Oliie Monkey (2007) – a worn out, neglected vintage stuffed monkey on the verge of falling apart.
To view the images use the following link:
References: Wikipedia.org, The art story.org, Guggenheim.org, The Guardian.com