It has been really difficult to make a decision on what to put in my Still-life painting as I really wanted to give it implied meaning rather than a collection of objects. Is the meaning directed at me or the viewer ? As we know there are many instances in art history of a change to the artists original ideas and how the viewer received it. Surrealist Artist Meret Oppenheim and her “Object” the furry tea cup which she has referred to as a youthful joke, which has become a classic surrealist artwork because of the meanings it received. As a female Meret Oppenheim made a place for herself as one of Surrealism’s central artists and produced some of its most powerful works. Oppenheim became known for her assemblages and sculptural works in which she brought everyday, often domestic, items into disturbing and humorous juxtaposition. For the Surrealists, such objects served to crack the veneer of civilized society, revealing the sexual, psychological, and emotional drives burning just beneath the surface.
Object Meret Oppenheim
1936. Fur-covered cup, saucer, and spoon, Cup 4 3/8″ (10.9 cm) in diameter; saucer 9 3/8″ (23.7 cm) in diameter; spoon 8″ (20.2 cm) long, overall height 2 7/8″ (7.3 cm)
Greek style urn and figure with a glass candle holder in a garden setting.
A jar, cocktail glass and candle stick.
Looking at the space between the objects and adding playing cards to represent chance.
The apple which i used in at the start from the Eve story but which can also represent the myth of Eris and her golden apple. Discord!!
I have decided to use the pineapple ice bucket ,the candle and an apple for my final composition. In Still life symbolism the candlestick is used to remind the viewer of death and the fragility of human life which seems appropriate in the current situation of “covid 19.” It also gives the composition height and aligns with the other objects into a triangle which hopefully helps the eye around the canvas. Further to this, it could be interpreted as a phallic symbol if I wanted to explore ideas from a feminist stance and perspective, however I do not think it is the most relevant aspect.
I also toyed with the idea of placing the apple beneath the candle stick so that it would suggest an exclamation mark !! An exclamation mark is used to show when something is surprising or forceful and helps make the meaning of the sentence clear. Which could draw attention to the frame, a nod to the environmental issues faced across the earth during the current crisis. This further opens a debate about how we treat the planet and nature through our lifestyles but I shall explore this in another entry.
The apple is often used in the genre of Still life, Cezanne wrote that “painting from nature is not copying the object, it is realizing ones sensations”.
Still-life with apples Paul Cézanne 1839 -1906 Oil on canvas 19 x 27 cm
Cézanne himself claimed that he planned to conquer Paris with an apple, and his paintings of this single fruit have in fact proved to be among his most admired works. Cézanne was also drawn to fruit, which often appears freshly picked in his paintings. He confided to a friend that “they [fruits] love having their portraits done. . . . They exhale their message with their scent. They reach you with all their smells and tell you about the fields they’ve left, the rain that made them grow, the dawns they watched. When I’m outlining the skin of a lovely peach with soft touches of paint, or a sad old apple, I catch a glimpse in the reflections they exchange of . . . the same love of the sun, the same recollection of the dew, a freshness.” (Quoted in Joachim Gasquet, Cézanne: A Memoir with Conversations [London, 1991], 220.)
Sometimes one wonders how these rounded objects didn’t roll off Cézanne’s table. But in constructing his still life’s, Cézanne wished to showcase the objects themselves and would tilt the plane towards the viewer so we can get a better look. He consistently drew attention to the quality of the paint and canvas never aiming for illusion. For example, the edges of the fruit in the bowl are undefined and appear to shift. Rules of perspective, too, are broken; the right corner of the table tilts forward and is not aligned with the left side. Some areas of canvas are left bare, and others, like the drape of the tablecloth, appear unfinished. Still Life with Apples is more than an imitation of life it is an exploration of seeing and the very nature of painting.
The pineapple ice bucket represents not the real fruit but the desired object in which it is compliant in its history as a status symbol. Originally from South America, pineapples were discovered by Christopher Columbus on one of his voyages to the New World. When he brought them back to Spain, many Europeans royalty in particular were completely taken by the delicacy. It was a rare, beautiful fruit most people had never encountered before and artists began incorporating pineapples in their work whether lavishly depicted in a painting or elegantly carved into wooden furniture. Thinking about the Dutch Golden age and the contradictions of the elegant and exquisitely painted still life’s depicting an overabundance and wealth while also hiding the dark secret of the true reality the changes to every day life due to the reformation or the brutal practises of coloninism in the discovery of the “New world”.
As pineapples became more accessible, they no longer represented status and instead became symbols of hospitality, much as the one used in my still life. There are many immitations of this once coveted status symbol. Further to its status, it has become just another commodity and is perceivd as normal on our fruit and vegetable isles in the supermarket, despite it air miles of travel. In this composition I want to use it as a vessel to remind us to reconsider our damaging food practices, factory farming ,polluting the environment and the use of plastic food packaging.
Illustration by Sally Nixon
One final way in which the pineapple resonates with me is through Stella MCCartney’s spring 2001 collection. That first collection for her new role with Chloe, where she took over from Karl Lagerfeld, brought a feminine and playful approach to high fashion. The collection perfectly married Stella’s youthful, cheeky approach to the world, as seen on halter maillots with pineapple prints strategically placed at the crotch.