A Curated Table: The Still Life Genre from Past to Present

Carnegie Museum of Art hosts an exhibition that explores the beauty of the still life genre through paintings that span a 250-year period.

JACOB FOPSEN VAN ES, STILL LIFE WITH LEMONS, ORANGES, AND POMEGRANATES, CA. 1660, CARNEGIE MUSEUM OF ART, GIFT OF THE DRUE HEINZ CHARITABLE TRUST.

From decadent fruits and flowers to a tastefully positioned block of cheese, still life paintings foreshadow a trend we’re quite familiar with in 2019: tablescaping. With the holidays just around the corner, artfully crafted scenes of food, décor and dishware will begin to pepper every social media feed.

ALBERT FRANCIS KING, LATE NIGHT SNACK, CA. 1900, CARNEGIE MUSEUM OF ART, GIFT OF THE R. K. MELLON FAMILY FOUNDATION

Before the advent of Instagram, though, artists were taking inspiration from their surroundings and composing scenes out of everyday objects. The still life genre emerged in the early 1600s in the Netherlands as trade and finance flourished, and merchants commissioned artists to document symbols of their newly acquired wealth.

SEVERIN ROESEN, STILL LIFE WITH FRUIT, CA. 1854–1855, CARNEGIE MUSEUM OF ART, GIFT OF GULF OIL CORPORATION, A SUBSIDIARY OF CHEVRON CORPORATION.

In A Delight for the Senses: The Still Life, Carnegie Museum of Art hosts an exhibition that explores the beauty of the still life genre through paintings that span a 250-year period. The exhibition features the museum’s very first 17th-century still life painting to join the collection, a gift from the late Drue Heinz.

ALBERT FRANCIS KING, STILL LIFE WITH LOBSTER, FISH, AND BEER BOTTLES, CA. 1900, CARNEGIE MUSEUM OF ART, ALICE AND JIM BECKWITH ART ACQUISITION

Visitors can learn more about the artistic process in two public programs on Nov. 16. At 1:30 p.m., hear photographer Charlee Brodsky in conversation with curator Akemi May as they discuss the history and continued tradition of the still life during a free event.

Then, join Brodsky at 3 p.m. for a $10 workshop and learn how to employ lighting and composition techniques to create a still life photograph.

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