6 THE RHETORIC OF STILL
LIFE

Still life is one of the most neglected genres, not only in photography but also in the history of art. It is only rarely discussed, despite the still-life picture being as pervasive as it is maligned. Art historians too complain that the still life is neglected and ignored. This is even indicated in the title of Norman Bryson’s book on stilllife paintings: Looking at the Overlooked.1 Yet paradoxically, still-life images are also some of the most highly rated and revered pictures of all time. No one would deny the painterly quality of Chardin’s carefully balanced tabletop scenes of food or the famous apples in Cézanne’s Post-Impressionist paintings or the ever-popular expressionist Sunflower paintings by Vincent van Gogh. Many, if not all, people love still-life pictures, and one might even be forgiven for thinking that still life is a form where visual innovation often occurs first, especially in the history of avant-garde art.

Cubism, for instance, not only used still life (guitars, vases, crockery) repeatedly to develop its thinking, it also completely dismantled its objects by breaking with any illusion of three-dimensional depth in pictorial ‘realism’. Evidence of the importance of the genre is given in philosophy too, where the humble still-life picture pops up in Martin Heidegger’s essay ‘The Origin of the Work of Art’. Heidegger uses a painting by Vincent van Gogh, titled Pair of Shoes (more bleak than the Sunflower pictures he is famed for), to meditate on a philosophy of art.2 A discussion of the same Van Gogh still life reappears in Frederic Jameson’s classic 1980s essay on postmodernism, while Jacques Derrida’s book, Truth in Painting, also engages with it – partly as his response to Heidegger and to deconstruct the claim that it is a pair of shoes.3 Still life offers the opportunity to depict objects in space and also a space for the critique of objects. What seems odd is this quiet persistence and presence of the still-life picture. Still life as a category will not go away. Resolute, stoic and despite being dismissed as trivial, it exists – and more, it innovates. So from these, admittedly brief, examples we might surmise that still life is actually much more important than it has

-111-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Photography: The Key Concepts
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1- History 8
  • 2- Photography Theory 24
  • 3- Documentary and Story-Telling 45
  • 4- Looking at Portraits 67
  • 5- in the Landscape 89
  • 6- The Rhetoric of Still Life 111
  • 7- Art Photography 129
  • 8- Global Photography 147
  • Questions for Essays and Class Discussion 163
  • Annotated Guide for Further Reading 167
  • Notes 171
  • Select Bibliography 183
  • Index 191
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 200

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.