Subtitled “contemporary artists reinvigorate the Still-Life tradition”, this is an eclectic and somewhat surprisingly large collection of work. As such, it would be nothing without cataloguing and organisation, simply becoming a ragbag of assorted and unrelated images. Michael Petry has gone to a great deal of trouble, including the entirely appropriate positioning on opposite pages of Damien Hirst’s For The Love of God and Gabriel Orozco’s Black Kites – both decorated skulls in a section on death, and part of a larger group that includes other skull images.
The term Still Life is interpreted just about as widely as it could be and the main sections of the book are: Flora, Food, House & Home, Fauna and Death. There is further organisation within those larger groupings that make sense of the variety of material included and a brief, but useful, history of the subject. Images range from the simple, maybe even expected, to the downright disturbing. Bowls of fruit fit well into the tradition as we expect it, but that is then disrupted by some of the figurative pieces, of which the Damien Hirst might be said to be one of the more conventional.
This is a book which can be informing, entertaining and disturbing all at the same time which, I suppose, is a way of saying that it makes you think.
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