Vanities 1571 - present PDF Print E-mail

Paris Art Sudies

Vanities from Caravaggio to Damien Hirst – Musée Maillol 2010


The Vanitas still Life first appears in art in Dutch and Flemish painting in the 17th century.

The objects represented contain hidden messages alluding to the transience of life and the inevitability of death.


Vanitas: literally “emptiness” in Latin alludes not to vainness or conceit but to the evanescence or emptiness of worldly possessions.

Scull: A “memento mori”, a reminder of death.

Hour glass, clock or candle: Allude to the passage of time.

Overturned vessel like a cup, pitcher or bowl: Allude literally to emptiness.

Crown, sceptre, jewels, purse: Stand for power and possessions of this world that death takes away.

Sword or weapon: Reminder that arms offer no protection against death.

Flowers: Symbols of brevity of life, they decay quickly.

Bread, wine and grapes: Eucharistic symbols. They allude to the Christian life and the conquest of death by Christ through his resurrection.

Apple and orange (in Dutch painting): Alludes to the fruit of the tree of knowledge and the Original Sin.

Cherry: Fruit of Paradise is a reward for virtuousness.

Pomegranate: An ancient symbol of Proserpine, goddess of spring, is stands in Christian art for the Resurrection.

Nut: Outer green case stands for the flesh of Christ, the shell for the wood of the cross, the kernel Christ’s divine nature (allegory elaborated by St Augustine).

Bird, butterfly, chrysalis: Symbols of the human soul


Principal Artists:


Old Masters:

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (Italian) 1571-1610. Baroque.

Theodore Géricault (French) 1791-1824. Romantic.

Georges de La Tour (French- 1593-1652). Baroque.

Francisco de Zurbaran (Spanish) 1598-1664. Baroque.


Modern Masters:

Georges Braque (French) 1882-1963. Modernist/Cubist.

Paul Cézanne (French) 1839-1906. Impressionist.

Paul Delvaux (Belgian) 1897-1994. Surrealist.

Max Ernst (German) 1891-1976. Surrealist.

Jean Hélion (French) 1904-1987. Modernist.

Gaspard-Félix Tournachon dit Nadar (French) 1820-1910. Photographer.

Pablo Picasso (Spanish) 1881-1973. Modernist.

Clovis Trouille (French) 1905-1975. Surrealist/kitsch.


Contemporary Artists:

Marina Abramovic (Serbian) born 1946. Performance 1970’s.

Jean-Michel Alberola (French) born 1953. Figuration Libre 1980’s.

John M. Armleder (Swiss) born 1948. Fluxus, founder of “Ecart” 1969.

Georg Baselitz (German) born 1938 in Saxony. Moved to West Berlin in 1958. Neo-Expressionism 1980’s.

Miquel Barcelo (Spanish) born 1957. Neo-Expressionism 1980’s.

Jean-Michel Basquiat  (American) 1960-1988. Neo-Expressionism 1980’s.

Christian Boltanski (French) born 1944. Companion of Annette Messager. Conceptual art (1970’s).

Jake (born 1966) and Dinos (born 1962) Chapman British. YBA (Young British Artists) 1990’s.

Bernard Buffet (French) 1928-1999. Post war figurative/expressionist .

Francesco Clemente (Italian) born 1957. Neo-Expressionism 1980’s.

Codognato, Venice jeweller founded 1866.

Philippe Cognée (French) born 1957. Figurative 1990’s.

Enzo Cucchi  (Italian) born 1949. Neo-Expressionism 1980’s.

Erik Dietman (Swedish) 1937-2002. Nouveau Réalisme, Fluxus.

Jim Dine (American) born 1935. Abstraction 1960’s.

Keith Haring  (American) 1958-1990. Neo-Expressionism/Grafitti 1980’s.

Damien Hirst (British) born 1965. YBA (Young British Artists) 1990’s.

Sherie Levine (American) born 1947. Appropriation art (1980’s).

Markus Lüpertz (German) born 1941. Neo-Expressionism 1980’s.

Robert Mapplethorpe (American) 1946-1989. Photographer.

Annette Messager (French) born 1943. Conceptual art/installations 1970’s.

Helmut Newton (German/Australian) 1920-2004. Born Berlin, emigrates Australia 1938, moves to Paris 1961. Fashion photographer.

Gabriel Orozco (Mexican) born 1962. Conceptual Art (video, installations).

Tony Oursler (American) born 1957. Conceptual art/installations 1980’s, 1990’s.

Yan Pei Ming (Chinese) born 1960 in Shanghai. Moved to France in 1980. Neo-Expressionism 1980’s.

A R. Penck (German) born 1939 in Dresden. Moved to West Germany in 1979. Neo-Expressionism 1980’s.

Irving Penn (American) 1917-2009. Fashion photographer.

Pierre et Gilles, French (Pierre Commoy, born 1950, Gilles Blanchard born 1953). Photographers.

Ernest Pignon-Ernest (French) born 1942. Romantic figurative 1970’s.

Marc Quinn (British) born 1964. YBA (Young British Artists) 1990’s.

Jean-Pierre Raynaud (French) born 1939. Minimalist sculptor 1960’s, 1970’s.

Gerhard Richter (German) born 1932 in Dresden. Moved to West Germany in 1962. Associated to Neo-Expressionism 1980’s.

Antonio Saura (Spanish) 1930-1998. Abstract Expressionism 1950’s, 1960’s.

Niki  de Saint-Phalle (French) 1930-2002. Nouveau Réalisme (1960’s).

Cindy Sherman (American) born 1954. Photographer.

Daniel Spoerri (Romanian/Swiss) born 1930. Nouveau Réalisme 1960’s.

Xavier Veilhan (French) born 1963. Conceptual sculptor 2000’s.

Andy Warhol  (American) 1928-1987. Pop Art 1960’s.

Joel-Peter Witkin (American) born 1939. Photographer.



< Prev   Next >
Copyright 2008 - 2010 ParisArtStudies.com :: Powered by HostingParis.com