Centuries after the Ancient Egyptians first daubed images of crops, fish, and meat on the walls of their tombs, the illustrious still-life tradition has undergone a transformation from one of the lowliest of art forms to one of our most significant. While still life – also known by the Italian term natura morta – simply refers to an image of inanimate objects, it embodies far more than a random selection of fruit and flowers.
Now Christie’s online-magazine luxurydefined presents four very different photographers that keep keeping the still life tradition alive and – with photographic means – are striving to make the everyday extraordinary.
Their pictures are frequently mistaken for oil paintings. But while Luijt draws heavily from painterly traditions it is the challenges of the photographic process that really fascinate him. “When taking a photo, what you see is what you get. If there’s a reflection of light on a glass, you will see that reflection. When an object is shown balanced on the edge of the table you actually have to balance it there. Sometimes you have to tilt a plate so it can be seen on the table but doesn’t look like it’s tilted. Painting is hard, of course, but sometimes it’s easier to paint reality than to photograph it.”