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Contemporary still life

Although at its heart a classic subject, the still life was the preferred approach of Cézanne, the artist who paved the way for art to enter its most modern phase. From Cubism to Hyperrealism via Pop art, sculpture, and photography, almost all art forms have been at some point shown that it is still possible to breathe new life into this age old theme.


Be it completely de-structured, funny, classic, or minimalist, the contemporary still life is far from old fashioned, despite the fact that it boasts a long, celebrated history.


Let's take a closer look at this theme that recurs so often across art history… even in antiquity, Pliny had already written about a painter called Piraikos, known for his paintings of 'provisions for cooking', and the optical illusions of Zeuxis, from which it was said that birds would try to pick off the raisins because they looked so real. The conventional still life as we know it today, however, dates back to the 17th century, where it developed in Holland under strict aesthetic codes.


Generally, oils on canvas were the preferred method for representing inanimate objects of varying types (lots of fruit, fish, game…) and flowers. The colours were muted, the background a monochromic black, the atmosphere heavy, and the light at a steep diagonal angle. There were few elements but they were precisely arranged and loaded with religious symbolism.


Even though still life was never considered a genre in its own right, almost all of the great masters have tried their hand at it at some point or other. Across the 19th century, all the art movements went through a still life phase: romanticism, impressionism, symbolism… and under the brushes of Degas, Cézanne, Monet, etc., still life evolved.


Little by little, artists added colours, erased the biblical references and replaced them with everyday objects in ever greater numbers: cooking utensils, cups of coffee, gas lamps, musical instruments…


In the 20th century, modern art once more dusted off this 'boring' subject, and began to play with its strict codes. From cubism to pop art to surrealism, all of the artistic movements made their mark on still life. Bit by bit, they took it to pieces and rebuilt it, moving ever closer to the contemporary still life, which has little to do with the original genre except for its central theme.


After his separation from Olga Khokhlova in 1936, Pablo Picasso painted 'Still Life Under a Lamp' whose plastic elements suggested themes that would later be developed in his famous 'Guernica' the following year. Pale lamplight dominates the triangular composition in the centre of the canvas and the arms of the antique sculpture appear to be on the verge of falling off the table. Although the piece altogether seems to move away from the classic still life, it maintains the traditional heavy atmosphere.  


In 1956 the Catalan surrealist painter Salvador Dali painted 'Living Still Life' in his typical humorous style. The canvas – divided in two to represent night and day – shows a table on a balcony. The elements (wine, water, a pear, a knife…) are in motion, or rather levitating, as though someone has just struck the tabletop.


Artsper invites you to explore a range of contemporary still life pieces that are both traditional and surprising in our unique selection. Discover the work of Syvie Andlauer Baruch, Gonzalo Sicre, Zbigniew Wozniak, and many more… 


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Iván Araujo, Alrededor de media tarde VI, Painting

Iván Araujo

Alrededor de media tarde VI, 2017
26 x 18.1 inch
Painting

$2,255

Bertrand Amand, Tomate, Drawing

Bertrand Amand

Tomate, 2013
7.9 x 7.9 x 0.8 inch
Drawing

$520

Paco García, Cherries, Photography

Paco García

Cherries, 2004
11.8 x 7.5 inch
Photography

$347

Daneïs, Pommes rouges, Print

Daneïs

Pommes rouges, 1982
11.4 x 14.6 inch
Print

$220

Charlotte Fröling, Still life with books and a globe, Photography

Charlotte Fröling

Still life with books and a globe, 2015
23.6 x 35.4 inch
Photography

$3,296

Gonzalo Lebrija, Cuba pintada, Sculpture

Gonzalo Lebrija

Cuba pintada, 2017
6.3 x 2.6 x 2.6 inch
Sculpture

$1,561

Olivier Legrand, Nature morte, Painting

Olivier Legrand

Nature morte, 2015
31.5 x 31.5 x 1.2 inch
Painting

$2,255

Aleksandr Pietrenko, Still life, Painting

Aleksandr Pietrenko

Still life, 2008
28.3 x 29.7 inch
Painting

$636

Marzena Miskiewicz, Still life with a watermelon, Painting

Marzena Miskiewicz

Still life with a watermelon, 2000
19.7 x 25.6 inch
Painting

$694

Cormac O'Leary, Auribeau Still life III, Drawing

Cormac O'Leary

Auribeau Still life III, 2016
11 x 7.9 x 2 inch
Drawing

$696

Gabriel Pena, Zonnebloemen, Painting

Gabriel Pena

Zonnebloemen, 2018
48 x 48 x 1 inch
Painting

$20,000

Ludovic Alussi, Embouteillages #1, Photography

Ludovic Alussi

Embouteillages #1, 2018
23.6 x 35.4 x 0.1 inch
Photography

$1,388

Stanislaw Mazus, Wheat in a pot, Painting

Stanislaw Mazus

Wheat in a pot, 2008
19.7 x 23.6 inch
Painting

$1,966

Wiktor Jedrzejak, Cup with berries, Painting

Wiktor Jedrzejak

Cup with berries, 2011
9.4 x 7.9 inch
Painting

$925

Ewa Bajek, Still life with a pitcher, Painting

Ewa Bajek

Still life with a pitcher, 1996
27.6 x 27.6 inch
Painting

$867

Edmund Burke, Orchids, Painting

Edmund Burke

Orchids, 1996
19.3 x 14.2 inch
Painting

$1,850

Tomasz Karabowicz, Still life, Painting

Tomasz Karabowicz

Still life, 2012
31.9 x 39.4 inch
Painting

$1,388

Roger Courtois, Simplicité, Painting

Roger Courtois

Simplicité, 1999
18.1 x 15 x 0.8 inch
Painting

$1,388

Ingeborg Häberle, Entspannende Lektüre, Painting

Ingeborg Häberle

Entspannende Lektüre, 2015
11.8 x 15.7 x 0.4 inch
Painting

$1,735

Valerie Smith, Elizabeth's Apples, Painting

Valerie Smith

Elizabeth's Apples, 2017
16.9 x 19.3 x 0.4 inch
Painting

$1,391

Louis Toffoli, Nature morte, Print

Louis Toffoli

Nature morte, 1996
15 x 20.1 inch
Print

$694

Bernard Buffet, La cafetière rouge, Print

Bernard Buffet

La cafetière rouge, 1982
28.3 x 20.1 x 0.4 inch
Print

$3,354

Joaquim Falcó, Fruits 4, Painting

Joaquim Falcó

Fruits 4, 2013
19.7 x 23.6 x 2 inch
Painting

$1,041

Gernot Kissel, Still life peppers, Print

Gernot Kissel

Still life peppers, 1995
23.6 x 29.9 inch
Print

$759

Charlotte Abecassis, Nature morte, Painting

Charlotte Abecassis

Nature morte, 2010
16.5 x 22 x 0.4 inch
Painting

$1,503

Iván Araujo, Paisaje interior, Painting

Iván Araujo

Paisaje interior, 2015
31.9 x 23.6 inch
Painting

$2,706

Michel Dubois, Flower #07, Photography

Michel Dubois

Flower #07, 2010
15.7 x 20.9 inch
Photography

$1,388

Michel Dubois, Flower #023, Photography

Michel Dubois

Flower #023, 2010
15.7 x 20.9 inch
Photography

$1,388

Alexis Gorodine, Fruits, Print

Alexis Gorodine

Fruits, 2011
19.7 x 25.6 inch
Print

$810

Gonzalo Sicre, Life with orange octopus and nature, Painting

Gonzalo Sicre

Life with orange octopus and nature, 2015
35 x 39.4 inch
Painting

$6,245

Andrzej Borowski, Still life - black moon with drapery, Painting

Andrzej Borowski

Still life - black moon with drapery, 2015
39.4 x 35.4 x 0.4 inch
Painting

$6,014

Safet Zec, Nature morte au pain, Painting

Safet Zec

Nature morte au pain, 2014
19.7 x 27.6 x 0.8 inch
Painting

$13,877

Bertrand Amand, Les contorsionnistes, Painting

Bertrand Amand

Les contorsionnistes, 2013
7.5 x 7.5 x 0.8 inch
Painting

$810

Agnès Tiollier, Bouquet art déco, Painting

Agnès Tiollier

Bouquet art déco, 2018
31.5 x 31.5 x 1 inch
Painting

$1,677

Maciej Urbaniak, Still-life in blue, Painting

Maciej Urbaniak

Still-life in blue, 2012
23.6 x 31.5 inch
Painting

$1,966

Maciej Urbaniak, Still-life with a pineapple, Painting

Maciej Urbaniak

Still-life with a pineapple, 2012
31.9 x 25.6 inch
Painting

$2,082

Thierry Genay, Tomate et Pomme, Photography

Thierry Genay

Tomate et Pomme, 2017
19.7 x 19.7 x 0.4 inch
Photography

$983

Miwako Yamaguchi, Jarron II, Drawing

Miwako Yamaguchi

Jarron II, 2018
27.6 x 19.7 inch
Drawing

$810

Julien Pebrel, Sulina #8, Photography

Julien Pebrel

Sulina #8, 2013
14.2 x 14.2 x 0.4 inch
Photography

$463

Aleksandr Pietrenko, Bottle and a pitcher, Painting

Aleksandr Pietrenko

Bottle and a pitcher, 1995
38.2 x 39.4 inch
Painting

$810

Zbigniew Wozniak, Still life with a lemon, Painting

Zbigniew Wozniak

Still life with a lemon, 2007
9.8 x 12.2 inch
Painting

$335

Thierry Genay, Fond Jaune ll, Photography

Thierry Genay

Fond Jaune ll, 2018
39.4 x 39.4 x 0.4 inch
Photography

$2,544

Paco García, Preserved pears, Photography

Paco García

Preserved pears, 2004
11.8 x 7.5 inch
Photography

$347

Daneïs, Fraises et pichet, Print

Daneïs

Fraises et pichet, 1982
12.6 x 10.6 inch
Print

$220

Alberto Romero, Cuenco de trozos de calabaza, Painting

Alberto Romero

Cuenco de trozos de calabaza, 2013
19.7 x 20.9 x 2 inch
Painting

$1,735

Gianni Colangelo, Odissey 6273, Photography

Gianni Colangelo

Odissey 6273, 2018
39.4 x 59.1 x 0.8 inch
Photography

$3,238

Gianni Colangelo, Odissey 9071, Photography

Gianni Colangelo

Odissey 9071, 2018
39.4 x 59.1 x 0.8 inch
Photography

$3,238

Gabriel Pena, Red Flowers, Painting

Gabriel Pena

Red Flowers, 2018
48 x 36 x 1 inch
Painting

$14,000

Pierre Boncompain, 3 Bouquets, Print

Pierre Boncompain

3 Bouquets, 1990
48.8 x 39.4 x 0.8 inch
Print

$1,388

Catherine Clare, Achitecture des mangues, Painting

Catherine Clare

Achitecture des mangues, 2016
19.7 x 25.6 x 1.2 inch
Painting

$1,619

Ludovic Alussi, Embouteillages #2, Photography

Ludovic Alussi

Embouteillages #2, 2018
23.6 x 35.4 x 0.1 inch
Photography

$1,388

Stanislaw Mazus, Asters, Painting

Stanislaw Mazus

Asters, 2011
27.6 x 19.7 inch
Painting

$2,197

Estelle Hanania, Skull & Bread, Photography

Estelle Hanania

Skull & Bread, 2015
16.5 x 22 x 0.4 inch
Photography

$347

Pilar du Breuil, Comme des natures mortes #15, Photography

Pilar du Breuil

Comme des natures mortes #15, 2014
15.7 x 15.7 x 1.2 inch
Photography

$694

Simon Blau, Kipper et flacon, Painting

Simon Blau

Kipper et flacon, 2014
15 x 18.1 inch
Painting

$2,429

Ava Fathi, Nature Morte Politique I, Painting

Ava Fathi

Nature Morte Politique I, 2014
21.7 x 18.1 inch
Painting

$4,048

Simeon Stafford, Still life, Painting

Simeon Stafford

Still life, 2012
30 x 35 x 2 inch
Painting

$4,915

Roger Courtois, Les fruits de la passion, Painting

Roger Courtois

Les fruits de la passion, 2000
21.3 x 25.6 x 0.8 inch
Painting

$1,908

Agnès Tiollier, Bols et citrons, Drawing

Agnès Tiollier

Bols et citrons, 2015
19.3 x 19.3 x 0.1 inch
Drawing

Sold out

Frédéric Baccalino, Oranges dans un pot terre cuite, Painting

Frédéric Baccalino

Oranges dans un pot terre cuite, 2016
18.1 x 15 x 0.8 inch
Painting

Sold out

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