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Montgomery Museum of Fine Art

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Abundance and Pleasure: Still Lifes in Focus

November 14 through January 31, 2016

Selected primarily from the MMFA’s permanent collection, the works in Abundance and Pleasure: Still Lifes in Focus display the trajectory of this genre. Beginning in sixteenth-century Europe, the painted depiction of ordinary, everyday objects in various arrangements became widely accepted, even if not as highly regarded as portraiture, landscape, or imagery based in historical, religious or mythological themes. This practice of capturing the essence of assembled inanimate objects migrated to America in the eighteenth century. Since that time, artists have employed still lifes as a vehicle to explore a multitude of ideas such as abundance, beauty, the pleasures of our senses, and the insignificance and fleeting nature of earthly possessions (vanitas) all while simultaneously raising the level of respect for this subject matter.

Throughout the years, the still-life tradition branched out into various media, including works on paper, photography, and even sculpture, thereby revitalizing the genre. Contemporary artists often use still-life imagery to symbolically and metaphorically describe the human condition. The exhibition Abundance and Pleasure: Still Lifes in Focus features both historical and contemporary works, including paintings by William Michael Harnett, Childe Hassam, Severin Roesen, and Edgar Soberón, prints by Alexander Archipenko and Joe Price, and photography by William Eggleston among others.

Edgar Soberón (American, b. Cuba, 1952), "Cazador de Nubes" (Cloud Hunter), oil on canvas, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase, 2009.15