This richly rewarding book reveals how leading artists of the twenty-first century are reinvigorating the still life, a genre previously synonymous with the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Old Masters. The audacious still lifes celebrated here challenge that historical supremacy and redefine what it means to be a work of nature morte, or “dead nature.” Whether through painting, drawing, sculpture, video, or other forms, contemporary artists have drawn on the tradition to create works of conceptual vivacity, beauty, and emotional poignancy.
Michel Petry has structured the book according to the classic categories of the still-life tradition―Flora, Food, House and Home, Fauna, and Death. Each chapter explores how the timeless symbolic resonance of the memento mori―a reminder of death, change, and the passing of time―has been rediscovered for a new millennium. Among the artists represented are John Currin, Saara Ekstrom, Elmgreen & Dragset, Renata Hegyi, Damien Hirst, David Hockney, Gary Hume, Jeff Koons, McDermott & McGough, Beatriz Milhazes, Gabriel Orozco, Marc Quinn, Sam Taylor-Wood, and Cy Twombly.