Paul Cézanne - Still Life (ca. 1890)
Georges Braque - Still Life with Grapes and Clarinet (ca. 1920)
Imagine a group of people sitting around a table, chatting together after dinner. One artist observing them might
decide to paint the entire scene, attempting perhaps to capture the mood of the moment. Another artist might
concentrate on painting the portrait of one of the participants. If Paul Cézanne witnessed the same scene, it is very
likely that he would have painted only the objects on the table -- and he would have done it after the people had
gone, because he needed a great deal of time and concentration to create a picture like the one in this session of
Flowers, fruit, water pitchers, musical instruments -- all of these are the traditional subjects of still lifes. You can
undoubtedly think of many others that come under the same heading -- familiar objects that you see around you
that somehow take on added dimension when they are skillfully arranged and translated into paint on the artist's
Artists have been painting still lifes for hundreds of years, in many different ways and for many different reasons.
For some artists, the subject matter itself has special significance; others find still life painting to be particularly well
suited for their artistic experiments. For an artist like Cézanne, who could take hundreds of hours to complete a
single painting as he agonized over every brushstroke, a bowl of fruit was infinitely more patient than a human
subject! To Georges Braque, one of the inventors of Cubism, the intrinsically geometrical forms of still life props
made them a natural subject for his art. Each artist was engaged in a conscious search for solutions to problems of
artistic representation, and the still life was one of their most important "tools".
Most young artists at some point use the still life to practice the basics of art. Perhaps our "young artists" will enjoy
trying their hand at creating still lifes as well.
Still Life with Grapes and Clarinet Still Life