A Feast for the Eyes
An Exploration of Still Life Paintings Now on View
Museum of Art’s Otto Meyer Galleries
Through colorful canvases and exquisite details, A Feast for the Eyes explores more than 150 years of still life painting. This exhibition, drawn from the Museum of Art’s rich permanent collection, probes the stories and meanings behind these remarkable depictions of everyday objects.
Still life paintings elevate humble objects to art and imbue those objects with layers of meaning. Inspired by flowers, fruits, vegetables, and bric-a-brac, artists created works that range stylistically from illusionistic to the semi-abstract. In some pictures, the artist carefully renders the texture, shape, and natural beauty of an object, such as the succulent fruit in Eleanor Ecob Morse’s Still Life (ca. 1890). In other works, such as Anthony Mancini’s Pink Still Life (n.d.a.), the objects dissolve into abstract colors, shapes, or patterns. For the viewer, the appeal of these pictures comes from the opportunity for a meditative encounter with everyday items. We can examine an article in minute detail and discover fine points overlooked in our everyday experiences. Through the artist’s depiction, we may be encouraged to explore the symbolic meaning behind an object or a plant, to contemplate an article in a new context, or to speculate on what meaning a particular thing holds for the artist. Each still life, whether austerely simple or lavishly decorative, is a feast for the eyes and a riddle for the mind.