Thursday, July 15, 2010

Matisse as de Heem (or "The Old as New")

About a week ago, my brother-in-law asked if I knew of any 20th century still-life paintings which "quoted" or were influenced by a still-life from an earlier century. In essence, N was interested in seeing if any 20th century artists had abstracted a traditional still-life beyond recognition. I didn't know of any direct copies/abstractions off the top of my head, but I did come across one example today (thanks to J!). Below is a painting by Matisse, which was influenced by the 17th century painting A Table of Dessert ("La Desserte", 1640, shown on bottom).

Matisse, Still Life After Jan Davidsz. de Heem’s ‘La Desserte', 1915

Jan Davidsz. de Heem, Table of Desserts ("La Desserte"), 1640

Matisse actually painted his version of this still-life after an academic copy that he made in 1893. I read a little about this painting in this article about a new Matisse exhibition at the MOMA. Looks like a fun show.

Although this isn't exactly what my brother-in-law was looking for (Matisse didn't abstract de Heem's still-life beyond recognition), it still is pretty fun. That being said - does anyone know of examples in which a 20th century painter abstracted an earlier work of art beyond recognition?