Jacob Fopsen van Es, Still Life with Lemons, ca. 1660, Carnegie Museum of Art, Gift of the Drue Heinz Charitable Trust
Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA) presents a new exhibition exploring the rich tradition of still life painting in A Delight for the Senses: The Still Life. Once considered the lowliest genre of painting, the still life has long been overshadowed in the history of art; in this exhibition, visitors will encounter examples from nearly 250 years of the tradition, from the 17th century of Dutch and Flemish painting to America’s Gilded Age.
On the surface, these picturesque arrangements are easy to appreciate for their aesthetic beauty and skillful rendering. A closer look at these sumptuous, calculated arrays of objects ranging from the mundane to the luxurious reveals moral undertones and allusions to the transience of life. The exhibition asks visitors to look closely and unearth meanings that resonate with them while considering the tradition of this once humble genre.
Special loans from the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Frick Pittsburgh, and several local private collections will be featured, along with recent bequests from the late Drue Heinz that include the first Golden Age still life in the museum’s collection: Still Life with Lemons, ca. 1660, a painting by Jacob Fopsen van Es that makes its debut in this exhibition.
“We are particularly excited to show the van Es painting,” says Akemi May, assistant curator of Fine Arts. “It’s a marriage of perfectly balanced composition and remarkable technical skill that embody this high point in the still life genre. You almost want to reach out and pick up the lemon peel.”
The exhibition is accompanied by two public events. On November 16, the museum hosts a free event featuring still life photographer Charlee Brodsky in conversation with May; they will discuss the history of the genre and Brodsky’s own practice. This is followed by a $10 hands-on still life composition workshop led by Brodsky, wherein participants will learn how to use lighting and framing to create a still life of their own.
A Delight for the Senses: The Still Life is curated by Akemi May, assistant curator, Fine Arts, Carnegie Museum of Art.
Major support for this exhibition is provided by Elizabeth Hurtt Branson and Douglas Branson. Additional support is provided by the Virginia Kaufman Fund.
General operating support for Carnegie Museum of Art is provided by The Heinz Endowments and Allegheny Regional Asset District. Carnegie Museum of Art receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Carnegie Museum of Art creates experiences that connect people to art, ideas, and one another. The museum is committed to global engagement and regional advancement. They champion creativity and its importance to society with experiences that welcome, inspire, challenge, and inform. Their core activities—collecting, conserving, presenting, and interpreting works of art—make those experiences possible. The collection of over 30,000 works emphasizes art, architecture, photography, and design from the 19th century to the present. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art was founded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1895. To learn more, please call 412.622.3131 or visit cmoa.org.