Elaine Bolt makes these great arrangements of 3D objects that are like a still life painting: beautifully composed, gestural, tonal, both abstracted and full of narrative.
These started me thinking about the difference between pictures and objects, 2D and 3D. Of course, a still life starts with objects; a painting of them adds layers of attention from the artist; a photograph selects and amplifies a moment in time.
Norman Bryson’s essays on still life, Looking at the Overlooked talks about this, making the case for the importance of still-life in art history.
Elaine’s work reminds me of one of my favourite Howard Hodgkin paintings, The Moon, where he has stuck the top of a stool onto the picture. You can still see the wood & the chamfer.
Nancy Holt‘s an example of a conceptual artist always using objects. Maybe Elaine’s arrangement is, like Bryson’s view of still-life, a way to introduce the domestic scale into conceptual art?
Or maybe in the new world where we see everything on screens, we need a new theory where pictures are objects too? Part of the great classification breakdown that’s come post modernism?