Nature Morte is a new exhibition at London’s Guildhall Art Gallery that illustrates how leading artists of the 21st century have reinvigorated still life, a genre previously synonymous with the 16th and 17th centuries. A major show, artists include Mat Collishaw, Michael Craig-Martin, Gabriel Orozco and Marc Quinn, as well as London-based artists Clare Twomey and Michael Raedecker.
The still life, or “nature morte”, has been a constant subject throughout the history of art, its significance changing over time. As an independent genre of painting, it came into its own in the mid-seventeenth century when the Flemish term stilleven first came to be applied to oil paintings characterised by their tight focus on an assortment of objects sitting on a flat surface.
Nature Morte is very different in tone from exhibitions we would usually expect to see at Guildhall with over 100 pieces from different disciplines going beyond the two-dimensional, including sculpture, digital, and sound.
Nature Morte is based on Michael Petry’s recent Thames & Hudson book of the same name. It brings together historical still life paintings and contemporary artworks that seek to use the language of the past for modern audiences.
Main image credit: Nancy Fouts, Rabbit with Curlers, 2010, taxidermy rabbit, curlers and kirby grips, 10 × 15 cm (3 78 × 5 78 in.)