Still Life Research for Part 2

Unknowingly I have already conducted some research for Part 2’s theme of still life.  Here is my write-up about a recent TV documentary that covered the history of Still Life.

Instead of repeating what I have written there, I am going to for this research point concentrate on contemporary still life as I feel that is an area I didn’t really look into last time.

Firstly I researched in a very modern way, I went to instagram and searched for the hashtag #stillife I did this as being on instagram myself it seems to be a common place for new, contemporary, currently unrecognised people to post their artwork.


What I noticed straight away was a lot of photographs, still life seems to be a very common photography theme (there were over 1 million search returns).  I also noticed as I scrolled through there were a lot of fruit, flowers, vessels and food, similar to the themes of the 16th and 17th century Dutch greats but obviously more modern versions of these.  When I searched for the more specific #stilllifepainting:


Again, there are a lot of flowers, fruit, vegetables and vessels.

Artnews wrote a piece on contemporary still life in 2014 and features numerous artists, one of which is Mat Collishaw’s ‘Last Meal on Death Row, Texas’.  Although a photographic piece not drawing, I find the concept eeringly fascinating.  Collishaw has set out the items in arrangements like the 16th century still life paintings, with objects overhanging the edge of the table and food items scattered over the plates and table, even the background being very dark is similar to works of the Dutch still life painters.  It is only when you know the reason that particular group of foods are together that you also realise another connection with the 16th century vanitas paintings and the morbid image of death.

In the article is a quote from Paul Martineau saying ‘The issues of death and time and consumption are key to the genre’.  I hope to move away from the issue of death with my own still life and build on my previous assignment piece to have recovery from mental illness as a theme, so the total opposite of death.  It is therefore interesting for me to see images and pieces of art associated with death to help me build a contrast in my own work.

Another artists mentioned in the article is Saara Ekstrom, again another photographer but their work is equally fascinating to me.  Ekstrom photographs images again associated with death and decay.  One of my favourite pieces by her is Clouded Yellow Bud which is a time-lapse of mould forming on a cup of tea.

It is not just photography where the still life genre is flourishing in the contemporary world, painters too seem to be still embracing it too.  Jorge Diezma is one who paints on oversized canvases in a photorealistic style with similar themes of decadence and death as the traditional still life paintings.  Emma Bennet takes the themes and ideas of traditional still life but paints cropped sections of them in a series to show the ideas in a new and interesting way.  Viewing her work has given me some ideas of things to experiment with, I wonder what cropped sections of my drawings would look like.  Rebecca Scott has a series of Still Lie paintings calles ‘Perfect Life’ she paints in a way that the series could belong to an instagram feed or appear as photos on social media.  This theme of people portraying perfection on social media is fascinating to me as it is something I have thought of in detail before, I will definitely be coming back to this theme in the future.  Tom Brown is an artist I stumbled upon through following various links, he paints still ife but with a lot of energy and movement in the marks.  I like the effect he has produced and again it is one I wish to experiment with myself in the future.

Unfortunatley the Oxford Art OCA login isn’t working at the moment, but I’m mentioning it here to remind myself to go back there when it is!








Author: claire516300

OCA Student. Currently studying Drawing 1

2 thoughts on “Still Life Research for Part 2”

  1. On my phone at the moment so will read properly later but I very much enjoyed skimming this and looking at your links. What is your name on Instagram please? I am @kate513940 . It’s a surprisingly engaging and creative place with plenty of OCA activity.


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