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Still Life Paintings

At Carré d'artistes, discover contemporary still life paintings that renew the shapes, colours and usual compositions of this theme. A still life is a particular kind of painting: it represents inanimate elements whose disposition is defined by the artist. This theme was very popular in the history of Western painting from the 17th century until the 20th century.

Characteristics

A still life painting represents inert things: it can be everyday objects, often linked to the kitchen, such as kitchen utensils (dishes, decanters, cutlery, glasses, etc.), food (fruits, vegetables, meats, fish) or natural elements (flowers). The representation of a group of objects is then the subject of the painting: the way in which each element is arranged according to the others and the way in which they interact defines the charm and the beauty of these paintings. Often, these paintings are related to food or tableware, but not only that: there are also still lifes which represent other types of everyday objects, of a particular occupation for example, or paintings of flowerpots, like Sunflowers by Van Gogh. The possibility of compositions is endless. There is in these paintings a very intimate and confidential dimension, and a deep silence which comes from the immobile nature of the objects represented.

History and schools

It was in the 18th century that the term “still lifes” appeared in France. Before that, we spoke of “cose naturali” (natural things) to designate this kind of painting. During Antiquity, the art of mimicry, pure reproduction, was very important: it was necessary to reproduce things according to reality, as faithfully as possible. In the Middle Ages, there is almost no trace of still life paintings. The time turns more readily to symbolism, allegory and paintings are reserved for religion.

It was in the 17th century that paintings representing objects took on an important role. The genre is developing rapidly, especially in the North, Holland and Flanders, which will create two distinct schools: the Dutch school and the Flemish school. The first is a bourgeois painting, small in size, with few objects represented; the second is also bourgeois, with an accumulation of objects in large formats, the moral of which is that of the vanity of life. Still lifes develop throughout Europe, especially in France and Spain, which are the other two schools of still life painting.

The genre was not renewed much in the 19th century, even if the paintings of Delacroix, for example, or Goya, were unprecedented. But it's mostly Cezanne which will renew the genre with his new spirit and colourful brush. He initiated a new path, which the greatest artists of the 20th century, such as Picasso and Dali, would seize upon.

At Carré d'artistes, discover contemporary still life paintings, such as Pascal Lionnet and Laurent Bergues, which explore the possibilities and revive the symbolic and aesthetic power of this type of painting.

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