One of the principal genres (subject types) of Western art. Essentially, the subject matter of a still life painting or sculpture is anything that does not move or is dead. So still life includes all kinds of man-made or natural objects, cut flowers, fruit, vegetables, fish, game, wine and so on.

The term derives from the Dutch 'stilleven', which became current from about 1650 as a collective name for this type of subject matter.

Still life can be a celebration of material pleasures such as food and wine, or often a warning of the ephemerality of these pleasures and of the brevity of human life (see Memento mori). The genre later called 'natures mortes' was particularly popular in the Netherlands during the 17th century and was often associated with material decay and the futility of worldly life.

Still lifes with this interpretation are known as 'Vanitas' or 'Memento Mori'. Though losing most of this symbolism still life has remained a popular subject with artists to this day.

In modern art simple still life arrangements have often been used as a relatively neutral basis for formal experiment, for example by Paul Cézanne and the Cubist painters. Note the plural of still life is still lifes, and the term is not hyphenated. (Sources: Varried)
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