When involved with life’s daily routines it seems as if time on earth will go on without end. Priorities become distorted, but vanitas paintings remind us that life’s journey has an end, and the things we concern ourselves with aren’t all that important when looking at the big picture of life and death. Although the mortality theme is in each vanitas, the artists express their meaning individually with use of color, iconography, and other artistic techniques. Two vanitas that are worth comparing are the Wheel of Fortune that was painted in 1977 by Audrey Flack and Vanitas, painted by Juan de Valdes in 1660.
When comparing Wheel of Fortune painted in 1977 and Vanitas, painted in 1660, it is important to use a formal theory as well as a contextual theory in that Audrey Flack could have been influenced by Juan de Valdes vanitas, however Juan de Valdes was influenced by artists from the seventeenth century in Spain. He was famous for his dramatic style with his use of color, light, and lively brushwork, yet his friend Bartolomé Esteban Murillo who dominated that region and period painted in a sweet and serene style. Contextually speaking, he was influenced by the intense religious spirit of the era (Getty Guide, 2012.)
The religious influence of the period shows with the cherub, and the cultural era shows in the style of skull, money pieces, and books and crown in the upper right corner. Vanitas is done with oil on canvas, while Wheel of Fortune is done with oil over acrylic on canvas. Flack was a pioneer of photorealism, and Wheel of Fortune shows this trompe l'oeil style. The skulls in the two paintings are both iconography, but Wheel of Fortune skull seems as if it would qualify to be used in a human anatomy class, where the Vanitas skull seems to symbolize the idea of a skull.
Both paintings use candles to imply time fleeting away. Implied time is also used in Vanitas clock inside of the book. Flack used an hour glass, calendar, and even the picture of the...
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