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Exhibition: 2017  “Objectified: Still Lifes from the Permanent Collection”, Telfair Museums, Savannah, GA

  • 121 Barnard Street Savannah, GA, 31401 (map)

One of my silverpoint drawings, "Garlic Discussion I & II", which is held in the Telfair Museums' Permanent Collection, is included in this astutely curated show.

Garlic Discussion I & II, Jeannine Cook, silverpoint

Garlic Discussion I & II, Jeannine Cook, silverpoint

Objectified considers the traditional genre of still life as represented in the works of Telfair Museums’ permanent collection. Presenting still lifes from the late 19th century through the present day, this exhibition invites viewers to consider the genre as a form ripe for artistic exploration.

Although the basic subject matter of a still life stays the same—namely, the consideration of inanimate objects—the depictions differ dramatically in style and medium. Objectified considers a range of still life portrayals from conventional trompe-l’oeil paintings to flattened Cubist interpretations. Although varying in representative styles, each work remains true to investigating the objects of our everyday lives, revealing them as items rich with invested meaning.

Read more in this article by Kristopher Monroe that appeared in on 11 November, 2016:

In the interest of sharing more of its permanent collection with the art-going public, Telfair Museums is opening “Objectified: Still Lifes from the Permanent Collection” this week at the Telfair Academy. “Objectified” is comprised of 29 different works in 12 different mediums by 24 different artists.

“We have all these works here and we’re doing research on them and want to get it out to the public and show what we’ve learned and show the works that we have,” explains assistant curator Erin Dunn, who put together the show after realizing what a diverse selection of still lifes were in the Telfair’s collection that hadn’t much been seen up until now.

“It was something I kept noticing over and over when researching our permanent collection, so I decided to do this exhibition really to explore still lifes as this transformative medium from the late 19th century to the present day because it’s not all static work. Artists are inventing and creating new ways of seeing all the time … It’s a very accessible style.

“It’s working with commonplace objects that you can find in your everyday life. So artists can easily make a still life or create the subject that they want to depict, but there’s so many different ways that you can play with it,” Dunn says. “So this exhibition really explores many different movements. We have pop art, we have impressionism, we have photorealism … We tried to find works that represent still lifes in a creative and innovative way.”

Also on view at the Telfair Academy is “Face to Face: American Portraits from the Permanent Collection”and at the Jepson Center is “Watershed: Contemporary Landscape Photography,” both drawn from the Telfair’s permanent collection, so viewers have a real chance to see the diverse selection of works from the depths of Telfair’s archives.

The works in “Objectified” date from 1890 to the present, and the subject matter isn’t just bowls of fruit on a table (though there are some interesting takes on that academic subject as well).

“It’s a show where people can walk in and it’s recognizable to them,” says Dunn. “Everyone has seen still lifes in museums, but there’s more to explore than that. It’s not just the subject matter; it’s about how artists have taken this accessible, easy genre and transformed it … It shows how artists are still really investing these items in our everyday life with meaning.”

Dunn has done a great job of putting together a variety of works that represent the hierarchy of genres in the art history tradition and the show itself complements the previously mentioned exhibitions currently on view.

“It’s kind of exciting right now. We have a show of portraits in the other galleries in the Academy and we have the landscapes show [at the Jepson], so we’re really exploring different genres.”