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ART IN THE EVERYDAY

My Future Ex-Boyfriend

One of my favorite things to do when I get home from grocery shopping is to put all of the purchased items away in an organized, aesthetic manner in my refrigerator and pantry. The highlight comes, however, when I have to arrange the fruit in the bowl in a manner that is both functional, for example, the heavy apples don’t crush the softer bananas, as well as visually pleasing. The combination of colors and shapes from the banana, apple, avocado, kiwi, orange, lemon and (occasionally if they are on sale) grapes gives me a lovely welcoming as I enter the kitchen each time. Today, while arranging my fruit bowl, I started to think about why it felt so good to do this. I realized that the freedom to arrange these inanimate objects created something that was beautiful. I could take a picture and hang it on the wall of my fruit bowl and it would almost be art.

But actually, it is art; an amazing and intriguing genre called still life. Still life is different than many other types of art, such as landscape or portraiture. With these types, the artist already has a set arrangement of elements within a composition. Many use this as inspiration to create a more abstract piece, but nevertheless, they usually begin with an arrangement of features that were created naturally. A still life work depicts inanimate objects that are typically a commonplace. The artist has the ability to alter the composition of these elements in a way that they feel is the most interesting or aesthetically pleasing.

Still lifes can be composed of natural objects, such as plants, food, dead animals, rocks or shells or man-made ones such as books, jewelry, cutlery or vases, for example. Spanish artist Juan Sánchez Cotán  created some of the most famous still life paintings such as Still Life with Game Fowl, Vegetables and Fruits, which is featured in the Prado Museum in Madrid. The composition appears simple, but has a fierce intensity, especially against such a stark background.

Another master of still life was French painter, Henri MatisseStill Life With Geraniums is one of my favorite artworks. It is currently at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, Germany.

Although it would be great to have the masterpieces for myself, I think that won’t be happening anytime in the near future. There are some places online where you can find original still life pieces from upcoming artists today, such as this art gallery  

Recently, still life has expanded beyond the frame of paintings. With the use of digital media and computer age, artists are now using different mediums such as photography, video and sound.

This still life photography entitled Breakfast by American artist Theron Humphrey  is really cool. Born in North Carolina, but growing up all over the US, Humphrey began working in the corporate world. After some time, he was burnt out and set out across America to take a photo of a person per day, everyday for a whole year in all 50 states. Many of his photos also include his companion, Maddie the Coonhound, who is also featured in this shot.

This painting by Lebonese Painter Hussein Fawaz entitled Orange Painting is sort of a modern take of Cotán’s use of a stark black background. It is really simplistic, but the work is incredibly intricate and it almost looks like a photograph.

 One of the coolest things about still life is that is finds creativity and inspiration is the everyday objects. Perhaps next time I am arranging my fruit bowl, I’ll stop to take a picture.

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