I have a question for Ricochet art experts. What explains the allure of a great still life? A decade or so ago, my wife, son, and I spent several hours in the Prado, Madrid's great museum. Along with works by Rembrandt, Van Dyck and and other great painters, it has the greatest collection of the works of Velasquez and Goya, not to mention El Greco. And they were stunning.
But in the end both my wife and I were blown away by the still life paintings of Luis Melendez (1716-80). Food, particularly bread, vegetables, and fruit were his primary subjects, yet they were among the most emotionally satisfying paintings in the museum. Can anyone explain this? Nothing happens in them. There are no people in the picture--yet they seem so human. A photograph of the same items would be mundane, but to see them painted so beautifully is a truly aesthetic experience.