Still Alive, is an exhibition which directs us through the genre of the still-life from the 17th century onwards, expanding the definition of the term. Although the considerations about painting topics ‘insulted’ this genre - representing from everyday objects to landscapes, as it did not belong to the genre of the history paintings, with mythological, religious or royal topics - this did not stopped the great artists to make them. Thus, nonetheless, the still-life, enjoyed of great popularity, and the considerations about this genre have been object of study and great admiration by the History of Art.
This show intend to review the concept of Still-Life, coined in the 19th century in France, from its beginnings until the 21st century, studying the style of the genre through the different moments of history, as we can see in the work of Jan Pauwel Gillemans II, Still-Life with Birds, which show us how the genre embrace from the most intuitive concept - fruits, vegetables, musical instruments, cups, cutlery, furniture, flowers, food, or hunting - until other notions that allow us to extend the concept of still-life, represented by skulls, butterflies, flys, grapes... All this elements are presented at the work by Evert Collier and his painting, Vanitas Still-Life with a Crowned Skull. Definitely, we have a gaze from perishable elements which allow us to grasp the notion of the shortness of life.
Eluding the scorn of the theory of genres, at the end of the 19th century, with the French impressionism, the still-life revives with all the dignity that this genre treasures, and which have been captured by great masters of that time, such as Claude Monet (1840-1926) or Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), among others. In Spain we have the great example of the work by Fortuny and his work, Italian Personage, which is an example of the breath of vision of this genre, not that much if you just peek the figure, but through the elements that accompany it. It is the breaking of the classical rule, the reinterpretation and rebirth of the painting as a fluid style, what unchained the inclusion of the still-lifes in the dignity as a topic of arts.
With a new great rising, through the modernism at the beginnings of the 20th century, in hands of the artists of this century, whom incarnated a new spirit of nonconformity, and intended to develop the representation of the nature and daily objects, in a new way, exceptionally different with the cubism which intellectualizes all the objects represented, highlighting the fact, in words of Mario de Micheli, in which “The fact was that something had changed deeply, even in the interpretation of sciences. The cubist reproached to the painters of the impressionism that they were only retina and not brain [...] It was not, then, of the simple and pure record of the data of the eye, but of its organization in an intellectual synthesis, which, when selected, highlighted the essential of it.”
Being this true, the works by Pablo Picasso, Chaise, from 1942, or Juan Gris, Guitare et Compotier, from 1927, entail the paradigma of this breaking concept, organized in an intellectual synthesis.
During this century, considered as one of the moments of more relevance in the development of different artistic movements, the still-lives continued their advance through the expressionism, principaly bounded to Germany, by the hand of Emil Nolde or Max Ernst, present at the show through his painting, Sole, moving to the dadaism, principally focused in the artist Duchamp and his work The Fountain, coming to Pop Art. Studying the works of Andy Warhol, the most famous of the artists of this movement, this genre is explained with some great works such as the Brillo Box, the Campbell Soup, or his astonishing Crash series.
In the present time, the exhibition gathers the works of the contemporary artists, picking an international view with works of some artists and examples, such as the evident mortality of the Wesselmann’s Smoking Cigar, the soft beauty and erotism of the photographies of flowers by Araki, or the most famous works by John Baldessari in his most conceptual art, gazing into the simple elements which compose the grid of our reality, through his work Bolt.
Still Alive gathers works of the artist who have influenced to the genre of the still-lifes, trying to offer the viewer, with a didactic intention, the evolution of this genre through history, with some works on sale, and some others, with museum quality, which are not. This retrospective engage a dialogue with a great and unique selection of artist such as Araki, Arman, Dalí, Fortuny, Gris, Jawlensky, Picasso, Wesselmann or Tàpies. A list which will be closed in the next days from the opening through the work of Nicolas Party, a work of this time, which will also speak with the rest of the works present at the gallery.
Curated exhibition by Felipe López Torres and Ricardo Mirat.