Sam Taylor Wood: Vanitas

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Sam Taylor Wood, Still Life (video stills), 2001

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In the arts, vanitas is a type of symbolic work of art especially associated with Northern European still life in Flanders and the Netherlands in the 16th and 17th centuries though also common in other places and periods. The word is Latin, meaning "emptiness" and loosely translated corresponds to the meaninglessness of earthly life and the transient nature of Vanity. Common vanitas symbols include skulls, which are a reminder of the certainty of death; rotten fruit, which symbolizes decay like ageing; bubbles, which symbolize the brevity of life and suddenness of death; smoke, watches, and hourglasses, which symbolize the brevity of life; and musical instruments, which symbolize brevity and the ephemeral nature of life. Sam Taylor Wood's work (Still Life, Video Stills, 2001) is another step in this direction: the image, beautiful as ever in Taylor-Wood's universe, decomposes itself. By the end, nothing is left but a grey amorphous mass.On closer inspection, one thing distinguishes this picture from its predecessors. The ball-point pen. A cheap, contemporary object that doesn't decay.

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This page contains a single entry by sherry cuttler published on September 1, 2010 12:44 PM.

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