BBC Culture

Contemporary artists update still life traditions

  • Under the Volcano. The Slopes of Jan Mayen, 2011

    Nature Morte, a new book by Michael Petry, brings together more than 180 contemporary still lifes by artists from all around the world, such as this work from Marc Quinn. (Marc Quinn)

  • Fugue, 2010

    The art compiled harks back to the still lifes made famous by the Old Masters of the 16th and 17th Centuries, and includes paintings, photographs, sculpture and video. Among the paintings is George Boorujy’s study of a stag. (George Boorujy)

  • Nature Morte 2, 2010

    Petry has structured the artwork in five classic categories of the still life tradition – Flora, Food, House and Home, Fauna and Death. Cindy Wright’s Nature Morte 2 is one of the book’s most provocative food paintings. (Cindy Wright)

  • Mariposa, 2004

    Petry is an artist and curator and is the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in London. The artists featured include Cy Twombly, Ai Weiwei and Beatriz Milhazes. (Beatriz Milhazes)

  • Pink Rent, 2011

    The collection also includes work by British painter Gary Hume, who was recently exhibited at the Tate in London. (Gary Hume)

  • Wrong, 2009

    Dutch artist Michael Raedecker, whose work has often been compared to the Dutch Old Masters, created this murky, atmospheric still life of a wedding cake. (Michael Raedecker)

  • Ollie Monkey, 2007

    Peter Jones paints from a collection of vintage toys – some of which, like the monkey featured above, are on the verge of falling apart. (Peter Jones)

  • Untitled (Orange Pyramid), 2007

    New York-based US artist Peter Coffin's Untitled (Orange Pyramid) is a contemporary twist on the still-life tradition. (Peter Coffin)

  • Carrots, entwined, 2007

    David Halliday – who originally trained to be a chef − digitally altered this photograph of carrots curled around each other to be as perfect as possible. (David Halliday)

  • Giallina, 2008

    Joana Vasconcelos’ snake is made of faience – fine, tin-glazed porcelain – and then covered with ornate cotton crochet, a hallmark of her native Portugal. Nature Morte was published this month by Thames & Hudson. (Joana Vasconcelos)