Still Life Introduction (01:50)
Today, we are bombarded with advertising imagery. For centuries, still lives have compelled us to reconsider the natural and material world.
Appreciating Ordinary Objects (00:52)
Most things have an aesthetic appeal. Still lives challenge us to consider our values.
Defining Still Life (01:32)
Experts discuss how artists express values and use censorship in their depiction of simple objects.
"Basket of Fruit" (04:42)
Experts analyze Caravaggio's 1596 work in terms of realism and religious symbolism. It is the first major still life in Western art.
Ancient Still Life Origins (01:57)
Learn how xenia paintings were used in the Roman Empire. The genre disappeared with its fall.
Medieval European Art (01:42)
During the Middle Ages, painting was confined to religious content. Secular still lives had no place in Christian society.
"The Annunciation" (01:54)
The Church forbade non-religious painting in medieval art. Learn the symbolism behind a lily vase in Duccio's work.
"The Four Elements" Series (01:29)
Christian ideology dominated art until the 16th century. Learn how Joachim Beuckelaer incorporated still life elements into his religious paintings.
Still Life Revival (02:12)
Caravaggio's "Basket of Fruit" marks a shift toward secular art, but he went on to paint Biblical scenes.
Northern European Still Lives (01:46)
Cardinal Borromeo's Ambrosian Collection contains secular as well as religious works. Learn how Dutch artists exported Italian painting styles.
Dutch Golden Age (01:43)
The Protestant Reformation transformed visual culture in the 17th century; a new wealthy merchant class commissioned secular art.
Mass Art Market (02:07)
17th century Dutch consumers used paintings to display their wealth. Learn how still lives represented global trade.
Vanitas Paintings (02:09)
Calvinist merchants wanted to celebrate their wealth but respect Protestantism. Still life artists used death symbolism to represent the transience of life.
Spanish Still Lives (02:20)
Learn how Juan Sanchez Cotan's "larder" pieces symbolize monastic life.
French Artistic Hierarchy (02:09)
French Academy students were trained to paint human figures in the 18th century; still lives weren't considered high art.
Jean-Baptiste Simeon Chardin (03:08)
Learn why the 18th century French artist's still lives were revolutionary during the Rococo and neoclassical periods.
Paul Cezanne (02:24)
Learn how the 19th century painter challenged the Paris art establishment and rejected the realist perspective.
Impressionist Perspective (04:10)
Cezanne's studio contains original objects used in his still lives. Learn how his technique demonstrates his artistic goals.
Expressionist Still Lives (02:03)
Cezanne pioneered artistic interpretation of perspective. Learn how painters such as Van Gogh reacted to photography.
Cubist Still Lives (01:45)
Learn how the modern art movement began as a reaction to photography. Cubism allowed the exploration of an object from multiple angles.
20th Century Still Lives (01:39)
Learn how advertising represents our relationship to material objects in the Machine Age.
21st Century Still Lives (04:15)
Ori Gersht explores the relationship between photography and painting, through slow motion film. Mat Collishaw photographs prisoners' last meals in a vanitas Painting style.
Depth in Materialism (01:25)
Still lives ask us to stop and look closely at a moment frozen in time.
Credits: Apples, Pears, and Paint: How to Make a Still Life Painting (00:54)
Credits: Apples, Pears, and Paint: How to Make a Still Life Painting
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