Vanitas Symbolism - LHS AP MIXED MEDIA and AP STUDIO

Report
Vanitas Symbolism
Objective: You will analyze the symbolism in Vanitas Still Life paintings in order to
select and apply meaning to your own still life.
DRILL:
1.
Take a few minutes to sketch one of the Vanitas still life
paintings on iPad power point.
2.
Label the symbolism by using the glossary on PPT.
3.
Use the symbolism links to look up symbolism for a
3+objects of your choice.
4.
Create meaning for your still life objects.
5.
What could the story be?
12:15 - At the end of class- you will work with a partner to talk about your
meaning and the qualities of your artwork. AP paired with GT.
12:20 – Group in-progress critique.
Harmen Steenwyck
Adriaen van Utrecht
Adam Bernaert
Kevin Best
Kevin Best
Vanitas Symbolism

Skull: Death, this is a clear memento mori message or the transience
of life, a universally recognized symbol of death.

Watch or hourglass: time is limited and is passing, therefore, use it
wisely. See a typical one-handle XVII century watch at the lower right
of the photo.

Books: Human knowledge and its temporary nature.

Artist’s instruments e.g. Palette, brushes, easel: Indulgence in the
arts, very few could afford to be painters let alone patronize the
arts.

Shell: they were normally exotic ones not commonly available in the
Netherlands. They were a symbol of the vanity that comes with
wealth, as these were exotic items at the time, only a very wealthy
person would have one of those.
Vanitas Symbolism

Insects, decaying flowers: transience of life. They were
inserted in paintings depicting expensive objects as a
reminder that life is temporary and moral considerations
deserved more attention than material things.

Broken or tipped over glassware: transience of life or
life is fleeting.

Musical instruments: indulgence of the senses as a luxury.
Sometimes they are present as artistic inspiration, as
music would inspire artists.

Silk or velvet tablecloths: vanity, as these were
expensive things. Silk being the ultimate fabric material
and purple the most expensive dye, hence the Roman
emperors wore purple tunics.
Vanitas Symbolism
Oriental rugs or carpets: These were prohibitively
expensive items, carpets were placed on tables to avoid
stepping on them and causing decay in their colors or
integrity. They were a symbol of wealth but also a sign of
pride as they were items brought into the United
Provinces through trade and commerce.
 Jewelry, clothes or mirrors: remember the temporary
nature of beauty, wealth and wisdom. Earthly riches are
temporary and therefore life should be carried out
according to the modesty traditions that were in place at
the time.



Mirror: a clear symbol of the vanity that should be
avoided.
Jars: Stoneware or porcelain were used for water or oil,
both substance sustain life at the time.

The skull is a reminder of the inevitability of death. Just as the
portrait is only a reflection of once-living person and the skull is only
the form of once-living head. The spectator must perceive it as
“flipping”, it most clearly symbolizes the frailty of human life.

Rotten fruit is a symbol of aging. Mature fruits symbolize fertility,
abundance, in the figurative sense of wealth and well-being. A
number of fruit has its value: fall of man is denoted by pears,
tomatoes, citrus fruit, grapes, peaches and cherries, and of course
Apple. Erotic undertones are figs, plums, cherries, apples or
peaches.

Flowers (fading); Rose is the flower of Venus, symbol of love and
sex, that vain, as is inherent. Poppy is a depressant that produces
opium, the character of mortal sin of laziness. Tulip is a collectible in
the Netherlands of the 17th century, the symbol of the folly,
irresponsible and unreasonable treatment bestowed by God.

Sea shells, sometimes living snail, a mollusc shell is the
remains of once-living animal, it means death and frailty.
Creeping is the personification of death Sin snail laziness.
Large shellfish represent the duality of nature, symbol of
lust, even one of the deadly sins.

Fuming candle or oil lamp is a symbol of the human soul,
its loss symbolizes the care.

Cups, playing cards or dice, chess (rarely) is a sign of
faulty life goal, finding pleasures and sinful life. Equality
of opportunity in gambling meant also the reprehensible
anonymity. Cigar tube — a symbol of transient and elusive
of earthly delights.

Mirrors, glass balls — a symbol of vanity, mirror,
reflection, shadow sign too.

Musical instruments, music page – brevity and the
ephemeral nature of life, a symbol of art.

Books & maps (mappa mundi), the pen is the symbol of
Sciences Pentium.

The globe – is the Earth and sky.

Palette with brushes, a laurel wreath (usually on a skull),
is painting and poetry. Portraits of beautiful women,
anatomical drawings. Vanitas

Coin purses, jewelry boxes, jewelry and cosmetics are
designed to create beauty, feminine appeal, while at the
same time they are linked with the vanity, narcissism and
the mortal sin of arrogance. They also signal of their
owners’ absense.

Lemons (in earlier times) was a very expensive food item, and a popular item
used, especially peeled with its attractive play of lights on translucent flesh, yet
they are so sour and bitter, and in this symbolizes the deceptive allure or
attraction of earthly beauty.

Artichokes, asparagus and strawberries were, for their part, symbolic of the fruits
of Paradise or Heaven.
Flowers have long been included as a still life subject. Different flowers hold
different meanings. They can symbolize innocence, the four seasons, or religious
symbols. The rose for instance, stands for love, the lily for purity, and the
sunflower for devotion.
Birds, or a pair of birds represent the resurrection of the soul after death.
The bee, as well as the butterfly, are symbols of hope, and because they are
rather delicate, are a reminder to the fragility of life.
The mouse, being a very fertile animal, became a symbol of lechery and
destruction.
Ivy, as an evergreen symbolizes eternal life.
The peach symbolizes truth and salvation, and is used as a replacement to the
maligned apple
Feathers symbolize the virtues of hope, faith, and charity (in religious works), and
they represent freedom (by enabling flight) and the heavens.

Shells, in a religious work, represent pilgrimages, or saints. The clam
symbolize the Virgin Mary. In contemporary works, they symbolize sensuality
and the pleasures of the flesh.
Skulls or bones, when in the painting, symbolize mortality. The skull also
represent inner contemplation, and eternity.

Books: learning or of transmitting knowledge.
The Lute (a really old version of a guitar) with broken strings: Death or
discord.
The candle, it’s a big one and has lots of meanings. It can indicate the
passing of time, faith in God (when its burning). When extinguished, it means
death, or the loss of virginity, and the corruption of matter.
It can symbolize light in the darkness of a lonely individual, or the light of
Christ, purification or cleansing.
The clock: the passing of time.
Mirror: stands for truth or vanity. By showing an image of a subject that
reflect what others see. This self awareness allows fruitful introspection and
the viewers attempt to find the truth, or lead to simple vanity.

The apple: Another big one in that there are many meanings. It can signify love,
knowledge, wisdom, joy, and death. In religious works it usually means
temptation, and original sin.
The apple is also associated with a woman’s anatomy, breasts in particular, and
then the core of the halved apple representing her sexuality or reproductive
parts.
The sword also a common item in earlier works, but not used much in
contemporary art. It symbolizes power, protection, authority, strength,
courage. It is phallic, (with the sheath representing the female reproductive
parts) and many paintings with soldiers, swords and women in the painting had the
sexual overtones within their meaning.
Artists during the renaissance era also used things like monkeys, parrots and
other birds, and cats. The parrot, the birds, and the cat – like the monkey –
personify specifically human failings. The monkey represents chaos. They also
symbolize man entrapped by earthly and sensual desires. When the monkey is
depicted holding an apple, it represented the fall of man.
The Cat: usually meant illicit love. Medieval times the cat represented lust and
prostitutes (now you know where the term “cat house” comes from). But in later
paintings, it is included to help provide a peaceful and enjoyable companion with
which they are depicted. For centuries cats are considered mysterious, beautiful,
and exotic.
Joseph Cusimano Symbolism

http://www.josephcusimano.com/glossary/index.htm
Links to symbolism dictionaries:
 Symbolism
Dictionaryhttp://www.umich.edu/~umfandsf/symboli
smproject/symbolism.html/
 Dream
Dictionaryhttp://www.dreammoods.com/dreamdictio
nary/a.htm
 http://www.dreamdictionary.org/l/
What will your objects mean?
1.
List symbolism for 3+ objects on the
symbolism dictionary or dream dictionary.
2.
What do you want your objects to mean?
3.
Share this with partner at the end of class.
4.
Work on still life drawing.
5.
Partner explaination at 12:15.
6.
In progress critique at 12:20.
Objective: You will analyze the symbolism in Vanitas Still Life paintings
in order to select and apply meaning to your own still life.
Statement Still Life
DIRECTIONS:
~Set up your still life objects and
continue drawing your objects.
~GET STARTED ASAP!
We will work with partners at the end of class, then hang all
drawings on the STUDIO ART BOARD in the back.
THINKING PROMPTS for partner critique:
1. Why did you choose your objects?
2. Is there a possible story?
3. How can you be you and show your style and/ or creativity?
4. How are you going to shade? Which technique?
5. What material(s) are you going to use?
6. Composition~ Consider drawing it BIG and arranging it
asymmetrically.
Objective: You will analyze your composition and describe your
symbolism in order to create a statement still life.
Ann Kullberg
Goals For this Still Life

Represents reality- use shading

Composition is successful- Big objects
touching sides, asymmetrical layout
 Story
and/ or symbolism- What
does it say?

Portfolio quality

Challenge yourself- size, detail, materials.

Use art medium that will add to your
portfolio, new or an extension of your fav.

Be you- Use your style, add creative
elements.
Ann Kullberg
Partners
AP
GT
 Kira
 Cierra
 Alayna
 Monica
 Katelyn
 Bryan
 Stephanie
 Kristina
 Jessica
 Skyler
Partner questions
1.
Why did you choose your objects? What symbolism do
they have?
2.
What is the story?
3.
How are you being you?
4.
Composition~ Size, view, placement, rule of thirds
5.
Skills- contours, shading
6.
Suggestion(s)?
HANG YOUR INPROGRESS STILL
LIFE ON THE
BOARD.
Statement Still Life
Objective: You will analyze variables of a
still life in order to select and apply ideas
to your artwork.
VERBAL DRILL on next
slide:
IMPLEMENT BLUE - MARGARET PRESTON
oil on canvas on hardboard, 1927, 42 x 43,
New South Wales, Australia
1. Take two pics (beginning
and end of class) of your
in-progress still life.
Save to your Edmodo
backpack.
2. We are going on a
‘FIELD TRIP’ to Shop 5
and my car to get some
supplies.
Statement
Still Life
Objective: You will analyze variables of a still
life in order to select and apply ideas to your
artwork.
VERBAL DRILL:
Describe the:
1.Positions of the objects
2.Lighting
3.Style
4.Possible story
IMPLEMENT BLUE - MARGARET PRESTON
oil on canvas on hardboard, 1927, 42 x 43,
New South Wales, Australia
By the end of class~ write the symbolism
and story that your still life is telling.
Statement Still Life
Objective: You will analyze variables of a still life
in order to select and apply ideas to your artwork.
GET STARTED ASAP.
TAKE THE FULL PERIOD TO WORK ON YOUR
STILL LIFE.
WHEN YOU FINISH- LOOK AT SURREAL
LESSON AND START TO PLAN.
REMINDER: HOMEWORK DUE ON TUESDAY.
IMPLEMENT BLUE - MARGARET PRESTON
oil on canvas on hardboard, 1927, 42 x 43, New South
Wales, Australia
Goals For this Still Life
1.
Represents reality- use shading
2.
Composition is successful- Big objects
touching sides, asymmetrical layout
3.
Story and/ or symbolismWhat does it say?
4.
Portfolio quality - Use art medium
that will add to your portfolio, new or an
extension of your fav.
5.
Challenge yourself- size, detail,
materials.
6.
Be you- Use your style, add creative
elements.
Ann Kullberg

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