Although it has been traditionally considered to be a “lesser” genre, contemporary painters continue to explore the range, power, and depth of still life. These contemporary approaches to the genre form the core of this magnetic exhibition.
The still life genre has undergone many changes — through celebration, ridicule, and experimentation — throughout art history, and this vacillating dynamic continues today among many of the most accomplished artists. On view now through August 7 at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas, “Object Romance: Contemporary Approaches to Still Life” is a fascinating opportunity to witness firsthand the current state of the genre.

Via the gallery: “Rather than promote the interests of an elite class, 20th-century still lifes reflect the individual histories and creative ambitions of their makers. With the rise of modernism and consumer culture, artists depicted unconventional objects such as mass-produced goods and broadly experimented with their methods of representation, turning the aged genre into a vital means of contemporary expression. The subject of still life is widely represented in the McNay’s collection, the most recent example being David Ligare’s Still Life with Apples and Vessel, which serves as inspiration for this exhibition. Gathering tabletop compositions and studies of single objects, all works in Object Romance initially appear straightforward. However, many objects are strategically lit, positioned, and described, giving them a theatrical presence that suggests symbolic meanings and larger narratives. Together these works in painting, sculpture, printmaking, and photography declare the importance of the ordinary and the familiar and the vitality of this enduring genre.”

To learn more, visit the McNay Art Museum.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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