Tacita Dean and Still Life

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This article explores the relationship between the work of Tacita Dean and still life painting, focusing upon two recent films made from footage shot in the re-installed bedroom studio of Giorgio Morandi (Day for Night and Still Life, both 2009). I argue that the history of still life painting dramatizes three of Dean’s key concerns: with transience and finitude; with a heightened attention to the textures and surfaces of the material world; and with forms of formal, historical and conceptual self-reflexivity. Ultimately, what is at stake in Dean’s return to the genre of still life, I argue, is the negotiation of art’s conditional and precarious autonomy, which is dependent upon yet resistant to powerful heteronomous forces dominated by exchange value.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)960-977
Number of pages18
JournalArt History
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014


  • Tacita Dean
  • Morandi
  • still life painting
  • film
  • drawing
  • autonomy
  • Theodor Adorno
  • Louise Lawler
  • contemporary art

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