The still life is one of the most bourgeois genres of art. Embracing the conventional attitudes that equate materialism with success, the still life most commonly depicts commonplace objects from the man-made and natural worlds. In doing so, it takes objectification to the next level. Rather than turn a living being into an object, it invokes the reverse. Perhaps it might be perverse to fetishize an object to the point of giving it “life” through the application of modes of painting that are designed to seduce the eye, the heart, and the mind.
Although still lifes first appeared in ancient Greco-Roman art, they went dormant for well over 1,500 years before arising anew in the lowlands of Europe during the sixteenth century at the very time a new merchant class was coming to the fore. As this small but prosperous middle class began to assert it’s self, it found solace in contemplation of the world it knew best. The very idea of elevating the commonplace objects of life to the veneration of art, once reserved for the church and state, is bourgeois at its core.
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