Sunday, November 27, 2011

Why do we love still life?

I still really haven't quite figured out the answer to why still life affects me so powerfully emotionally. These ones really do it.

Giovanna Garzoni (1600-1670).

Since I started the art thing, I have had the thought I wanted to do a series of formal Botanicals of the flora and fauna native to Santa Marinella. It's been one of my big art goals. Love Botanicals.

H/T to Andrea.



Mark S. Abeln said...


Still life painting often has significant allegorical, religious, or moral symbolism. Perhaps this may be a reason why you are drawn to them. Still lives also have been historically the most popular of all genres of painting.

The still life "vanitas" paintings had reminders of the shortness of life, such as an hourglass.

Early botanical paintings were originally done within the still life genre, so perhaps they too have symbolic content.


Mary Rose said...

Mark, that is interesting. I love symbolism.

I love still life because it reminds me to slow down and savor the beauty of life. Still life paintings always bring peace to my soul. Sometimes I'll look at one that has say, fruit or flowers in a bowl and think of a woman caring for her home enough to artfully arrange such a visual feast.

Hilary Jane, I just posted a still life I did a long, long time ago. I never had the nerve to do this with watercolor, pastels, acrylic or oil. I'm a sketcher, more than anything.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes a cherry is just a cherry. Botanicals are great.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Mark, it seems unlikely that any formaly system of symbols would have any effect on me since I know nothing whatever about them.

Anonymous said...

I think the thing I love about still life is that it makes me look closely at prosaic, every day items that I normally wouldn't pay that much attention to. Like that painting of the peeled lemon you posted - how often do we really LOOK at lemons. Not often, I suspect. Our eyes are usually too busy taking in our whole environment rather than looking at one thing only. Which is good because we would spend a lot of time bumping into things otherwise.

One day I was bored at work and started looking at a glass of water sitting on my desk. After contemplating it for a few moments I realised how utterly beautiful it looked.


Anonymous said...

There is a harmony in still life between medium and subject: while it is unusual for people to sit still for extended periods, it's what you expect of such things as bouquets and hen's eggs. Or at least, their decay is much more gradual, and so the suspension involved in painting them is more graceful than capturing a person at one moment of her life... but that makes it sound like I'm arguing still life to be easier than portraiture, which isn't what I mean at all.

Hmmm... perhaps

(still life):(depiction)::(sonnet):(verse)


Or maybe still life allows painting to really be painting itself? --- never mind that pollackian nonsense; a Pollack may be more like construction sounds than cosmic background static on the radio, but it's still noise not music.

~~ a Christopher

Anonymous said...

From Aristotle,
"Since learning and wondering are pleasurable, all things connected with them must also give pleasure: e.g. works of imitation such as painting, sculpture, poetry, and all that is well imitated, even when the object imitated is itself not pleasant: for what gives pleasure is not the pleasantness of the object, but the inference that the representation and the object represented are identical, with the result that we learn something." Rhetorics I, 11: 1371b10

Something I came across today, and thought you might like.

-mary ann

Felix said...

Not being an artist, I automatically mis-read you as asking, "Why do we still love life?"

But perhaps the answer to this is linked to the answer to your actual question.