Still Life and Abstraction National Museum Cardiff

Still life with paddle steamer and pier (1932) John Piper (1903-1992)

Still life with paddle steamer and pier (1932)
John Piper (1903-1992)
Pencil, watercolour and gouache on paper
Lent by the Derek Williams Trust

Paul Cézanne, Paul. Still life with teapot.

Still Life with Teapot, 1902-06
Paul Cézanne (1839-1906)
Oil on canvas

The works in this gallery explore the links between still life and abstraction in modern art of the twentieth century.

Still life – the arrangement of everyday objects on a table – was the chosen subject-matter for a number of the most radical innovations of the early twentieth century.

Movements such as Cubism used still life to develop a visual language that would eventually lead to pure abstraction.

The paintings of Paul Cézanne helped pave the way for these developments. His work demonstrated that a painting no longer had to represent the visible world.

The forms and colours of a painting, irrespective of what they represented, were now recognised as having the power to trigger an emotional response.

At the same time more traditional approaches to still life continued to be pursued.

But even in the quiet, timeless paintings of Giorgio Morandi, the abstract properties of the objects on the table are more important than any traditional symbolic meaning.

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