Poet Mark Doty observed that "in a still life, there is no end to our looking, we look in and in…. as long as we can stand to look, as long as we take pleasure in looking." One of the most fundamental of artistic genres, the still life remains a staple of beginning art classes. When Elaine Fried arrived at Willem De Kooning's studio in 1938 for her first private lesson, he set up a grouping of ordinary objects including a coffee pot, a large shell, a yellow cup, a blue cotton shirt, and an army blanket. She painted these compositions for months and found the experience to be transformative. "I really felt as though I could spend my entire life painting still lifes and express everything I wanted to express through them," declared Fried. For artists, still life "models" are both handy and free ways to explore spatial relationships. For viewers, the intimate scale of a tableau of inanimate objects reward the process of looking and observing.
Still Life: Ordinary Pleasures is organized by Phoenix Art Museum. It is made possible through the support of the Henry Luce Foundation.
Naturaleza Muerta: Placeres Ordinarios
Image credit (detail): Elena Climent, Cocina con vista al viaducto (Kitchen with View of the Viaduct), 1995. Oil on canvas and panel. Museum purchase in honor of Clayton Kirking with funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. L. Gene Lemon.
Image credit (detail): Randall Davey, Flowers in a Vase, oil on board. Gift of Eugene B. Adkins.
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