Roy Lichtenstein’s Six Still Lifes of 1974 manifest a colourful excursion into the diverse legacies of the still life genre. Each composition in this bright six part sequence is predicated on the artistic style of 20th century modern masters.
Although still life painting has been practiced since ancient times, its particular mode of representation has never ranked highest in the hierarchy of art. Offering sublime scenes of prosperity and temporality, the genre was often dismissed as a creative exercise. Lichtenstein embraces its decorative qualities, rendering his Six Still Lifes according to a pronounced commercial aesthetic.
Historically, still lifes would capture the vanity of earthly pleasures through allegorical depictions of inanimate objects. Lichtenstein’s Yellow Still Lifedoes just that, showcasing a perishable assortment of goods, set against a neutral, cream coloured background. The print depicts apples, oranges, bananas, lemons and a block of cheese, piled together in the centre of the composition.
Although Lichtenstein mimics the subject matter and the conventional layout of classical still lifes, he renders his shapes purist, uniform and bright yellow. The artist re-envisions an elaborate historic image as a simplified graphic. In doing so, he presents a humorous artwork reminiscent of a modern day supermarket advert.