19 images Created 3 Dec 2013
Vanitas Fair employs tintypes as a means of investigating mortality through modern recreations of memento mori, nature morte and vanitas paintings. This work explores this collective genre’s thematic use of death, time, natural decay and the quest for artistic achievement. The photographs pay homage to the historical paintings and strive to update existing imagery in the context of present day through magazine cover portraits and still life set pieces. Aging and death are fundamental to the human experience but the fashions of western culture bear an obsession with body modification to fight and deny the effects of time. The modern feminine ideal, reshaped by digital imaging technology and plastered over magazine covers, is now a structured artifice. The “cover girl” portrait series is organized in a common magazine-style format but the double exposure with a skull undercuts feminine beauty with the inevitable outcome of time. The still life images are intentionally painterly, drawing a direct line to the Dutch nature morte and vanitas canvases of the 16th and 17th centuries. Table settings, fresh fish, money and musical instruments symbolize sensual pleasures, comforts whose meaning is temporal. The globe continues to spin, the candle will burn out as time marches onward.