Artists are often thought of as mirrors on the world around them, reflecting their time and society. With 20th century still life paintings however, artists used their works as a means to offer escape.
Still life is art which depicts inanimate subjects. Traditionally this would be flowers, utensils or other household items, although the range of subjects for 20th century still life paintings was far broader. The crucial element is the stillness and serenity in the images, standing in stark contrast to the constant change, upheaval and conflict of the twentieth century.
Here is a spotlight on three 20th century still life painters who captured a sense of serenity despite the chaotic world around them.
Born in France in 1869, Henri Matisse is considered one of the masters of 20th century still life painting.
His 1917 piece “Portrait de famille (The Music Lesson)” was made as Matisse’s native France was ravaged by the First World War, yet it is a work of serenity and calm oblivious to the conflict. As Matisse himself once famously said, he wanted his art to have the effect of a comfortable armchair.
Born in Belgium but raised in London, George Weissbort’s 20th century still life paintings of cities stand in opposition to the constant movement of the century itself.
The rooftops of Ostend renders the bustling Belgian port city silent and still. It presents a loving depiction of the urban environment from the artist’s point of view, but removes all the stresses and strains typically associated with that environment.
Like Weissbort, the 20th century still life paintings of Edward Wesson have the remarkable ability to take the sting out of a city.
Trafalgar Square looking towards the National Gallery from Canada House 1950 takes one of the busiest parts of London and uses soft yet vivid colours to highlight serenity instead of chaos. Again, still life paintings become a means of escaping the stresses and strains of 20th century life.
The feeling of serene escape offered by 20th century still life paintings is just as refreshing and vital now as it was then. To learn more about the extensive collection of 20th century still life paintings we have for sale, contact us today.