The artist Robert Barry states that “nothing keeps renewing itself the way art does” the meaning behind this statement can be supported by analysing the still life or vanitas of painting in western culture whilst looking through the post-modern frame.
The use of the post-modern frame is to primarily analyse and interpret an artwork, taking into account the post-modern and temporary influences and how this many affect the making & meaning of the artwork. It is used to examine how changing the context of works can influence the interpretation of the artwork overall. In other words, it could be described as taking something old and making it new.
Flemish still life’s were some of the earliest recorded still life paintings. The earliest being Hare (1502) by Albrecht Durer and Dead Bird (1504) by Jacopo de’barbari. As a result of the protestant revolt against the Church of Rome, religious painting declined immensely and encouraged the re-emergence of the Still Life genre in Northern Europe. The development of the genre came with the introduction of allegories into still life through the use of religious or quasi-religious symbolism. This in turn widened its appeal. This was where the birth of Still Life was formed which is the comprised arrangement of symbolic objects designed to remind the viewers of their materialistic place on earth and not to abuse that place in order to receive deliverance from sin.
Flemish vanitas artists often used to technique of “Trompe L’oeil” or “Trick of the eye” to further the feeling and tone of their creations and help the audience relate to it more with the detailed symbolism that conveyed the meaning behind the painting. Vanitas commonly used symbols that signified death (skull), time (melted candle, hour glass, rotting fruit or dust) or vanity (mirrors, materialistic treasures that defined ones wealth). All these symbols came together to create an allegory behind the painting, some symbols having allegories...
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