This forthcoming International Touring Exhibition is the latest in a series of exhibitions exploring the traditional artistic genres. The subject provides a thematic focus for a diverse range of new or recent work by contemporary British artists.
Since evolving as an independent category of art in the seventeenth century, the still life has remained by definition an arrangement of objects defined by the codes of representation specific to a given time. Considered the lowest ranking pictorial genre in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the still life became the characteristic form of expression for artists involved in most twentieth century art movements from Cubism to Pop. Thoroughly transformed, the contemporary still life is derived from widely varying approaches employing both traditional and new media and techniques.
Object assemblages in this exhibition that can be said to represent an evolved still life genre include Jane Simpson's arrangement of domestic furniture wired to a refrigerated element, and Anna Barriball's coloured angle-poise lamps, carefully positioned before a wall-mounted drawing. Martin Boyce's displaced sections of modernist furniture form dejected abstract structures, while Gary Webb's assemblages incorporate the widest range of abstract shapes, colours, materials and sound elements to form chaotic yet precise groupings.
A number of works refer closely to the history of still life imagery such as the meticulous collaborative paintings in pastiche academy style by Bank, Patrick Caulfield's object compositions incorporating abstracted areas of light and shade, and Jane Simpson's sculptural homages to Giorgio Morandi. Simon Starling re-articulates the traditional flower composition in a series of photographic images recording uprooted rhododenron plants on their 'repatriation' journey to the land of their origin. In John Riddy's black and white photographs of modernist interiors the architectural space functions as a backdrop for the precise placement of exquisite objects of desire.
The traditional theme of vanitas or momento mori is extended in paintings by Nigel Cooke, through the introduction of new and unexpected elements alongside references to classical motifs. In the work of Christina Mackie and Mike Nelson the use of narrative is liberated from the highly restricted parameters that traditionally operated within the genre to encompass individual histories and complex fictions. In the Duchampian tradition of redefining the meaning of everyday objects, 'ready-made' still lives are given centre stage in Richard Wentworth's 'Making Do and Getting By' photo series while Harrison and Wood's semi-static videos record figure and object performances. Emma Kay's compositions take the form of printed words listing commonplace items as they appear in the text of the bible.
Catalogue published to accompany the exhibition ISBN 0 86355 448 2; available from Cornerhouse www.cornerhouse.org
Existing or coming into being at the same period; of today or of the present. The term that designates art being made today.
The depiction of shapes and forms on a flat surface chiefly by means of lines although colour and shading may also be included. Materials most commonly used are pencil, ink, crayon, charcoal, chalk and pastel, although other materials, including paint, can be used in combination.
In a specialised sense this term refers to the portrayal of everyday life, and refers to painting; more broadly it means the subject types covered by an artist.
The 17th Century French Academy decreed that there were five main genres an artist should study. These were History, Portrait, Genre, Landscape and Still Life. History was considered the most important as it portrayed Man in his most noblest endeavours and in his relationship with God; Still Life the lowest as it dealt with the moribund and innate.
Brazil, Rio De Janeiro, Museum Of Contemporary Art Niteroi
- 20 November 2004 − 27 February 2005
Brazil, Sao Paulo, SESI
- 04 August 2004 − 07 November 2004
Guatemala, Ciudad De Guatemala, Museo De Arte Moderna
- 01 April 2004 − 04 October 2005
Panama, Panama City, Museo De Arte Contemporaneo
- 21 January 2004 − 04 October 2005
Colombia, Bogota, Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango
- 15 September 2003 − 04 October 2005
Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Carillo Gil
- 16 July 2003 − 04 October 2005
Argentina, Rosario, Parque Espana
- 01 July 2003 − 04 October 2005
Argentina, Buenos Aires, Malba
- 01 May 2003 − 04 October 2005
Venezuela, Caracas, Museo Alejandro Otero
- 09 February 2003 − 04 October 2005
Chile, Santiago, Museo Nacional De Bellas Artes
- 07 November 2002 − 04 October 2005