In the Western tradition of academic art, the still life emerged from its early supportive role as a symbolic device in figurative painting to become a significant independent genre unto itself. More than merely an art of imitation, still life offers the possibility to engage a range of topics and subjects, including religious and allegorical symbolism, landscape, architecture, narrative, and abstraction.
A Fine Arrangement: The Art of Still Life brings together a selection of works from the museum's permanent collection, along with works from the Woodmere Art Museum, and contemporary works from artists with ties to both the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Philadelphia region.
Many of the artists included in the exhibition were trained at PAFA, including Charles Demuth, Charles Lewis Fussell, and John Peto. Other artists not only trained, but also taught at PAFA, including Arthur B. Carles, Ben Kamihira, Jimmy Leuders, Elizabeth Osborne, and Franklin Watkins.
The two curators of the exhibition, Jan Baltzell and Michael Gallagher, are also artists and PAFA faculty members. Students may encounter Baltzell and Gallagher in first year Still Life Drawing and Painting classes, mid-level Drawing and Painting classes, and in the independent studio critic program. For them, still life is a specific topic that grows and combines with other subjects, concepts, and media to engage a diverse range of artistic practices, and continues to be a relevant art form.
The School of Fine Arts Gallery is a gift of the Women’s Board, and is dedicated to exhibitions that will exemplify the educational mission of the school of PAFA and its programs.