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Gladioli Claude Monet
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Gladioli (21.71) — Claude Monet

The “Super Bowl” Show: Still-Life Prints, Drawings, Photographs, and Vessels

January 25 through April 30, 2006

  • For Everyone

Schwartz Graphic Arts Galleries

Is the glass half empty or half full? What if a goblet is overturned? Is the picture just a pretty arrangement of fruit or does it have a deeper meaning? The answer to these questions is often yes, but just as frequently no. This exhibition includes both deeply serious and light-hearted images of bowls, dishes, cups, glasses, vases, and urns along with true “super bowls.” Like the prints, drawings, and photographs, these containers range from the utilitarian to the decorative and cross many eras and cultures from among the DIA’s departments.

Still-lifes—which often include a “super bowl”—are arrangements of objects that can be commonplace or elaborate. Bowls of fruit, vases of flowers, and similar subjects can be found in art as old as the mosaics uncovered in the Roman city of Herculaneum, which was buried in volcanic ash in the year 79 A.D. As a category of art, still life became extremely popular in Northern Europe, particularly in the Netherlands during the seventeenth century, when a growing, prosperous middle class began to fill its homes with images of luxury objects. Since the late nineteenth century, hundreds of European and American artists have developed still- life themes with exceptional originality. Examples among the more than 120 works on paper and vessels in the exhibition include the simple shallow tub in a Toulouse-Lautrec lithograph, watercolors by German expressionists Emil Nolde and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, photographs from the 1920s and ’30s by André Kertész and Charles Sheeler, and an edition of prints commissioned from Jane Hammond in 2005.

Each bowl, selected for a super quality—material, craftsmanship, or design—serves as the “real life” counterpoint to the graphic images. Luxurious in material, exuberant in design, or humble in utilitarian intent, the vessels on view were made by masters including a Zuni potter, jeweler and designer René Lalique, ceramicist Beatrice Wood, and contemporary glass artist Jay Musler.