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Indepth Arts News:

"ANITAS EXHIBITION AT VIRGINIA MUSEUM COMBINES TRADITION WITH TOMORROW Fourteen Contemporary Artists Explore Theme of Life and Death"
2000-04-04 until 2000-06-18
Virginia Museum fo Fine Arts
Richmond, VA, USA United States of America

Combining tradition with the experimental and featuring an international selection of work by 14 contemporary artists, Vanitas: Meditations on Life and Death in Contemporary Art is on view until June 18 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. A reference to the theme may be found as far back as Biblical times: -Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What do people gain from all the toil at which they toil under the sun. A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.- (Ecclesiastes 1:2-4, New Revised Standard Version.)

Vanitas is a Latin word used since the Renaissance to describe the transitory nature of life. The term characterizes the appreciation of life’s pleasures and accomplishments joined with the awareness of their inevitable loss, according to John B. Ravenal, curator of art after 1900 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and organizer of the exhibition. This theme has long been the inspiration for some of the Western civilization’s most significant works of art and literature. It is especially apparent in 17th-century Dutch still lifes, with their abundant flowers, overripe fruits, snuffed candles, skulls and timepieces, he explains.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Interim Director Richard B. Woodward says, It is fitting to look at artists of our own time as we mark the beginning of a new millennium. This moment inevitably prompts us to think about lasting values. The venerable ‘vanitas’ theme continues to captivate today’s artists in their contemplation and expression of the dynamic tension between lifes beauty and its fleeting nature.

The exhibition will introduce museum visitors to some of the most important contemporary artists working today, none of whom have been presented before in this region.


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