Vanitas, Still-life in Contemporary Icelandic Art
The Latin word vanitas means vanity, something that is empty, vain or valueless. In art history, vanitas is used for the artistic genre of still-life paintings that are symbolic of the futility of earthly life. Here we use the term for contemporary artworks that count as still-life, although many of them were not originally presented as such. Like traditional vanitas, they focus on our ordinary ways of life. The materials are ordinary and the construction of the works simple. By bringing them together under the heading of vanitas, the intent is to highlight the reminder of transience and renewal that is found in the works. Many of them focus on misplaced values but they are neither cynical nor pessimistic. They don’t insist on the futility of earthly pursuits but on the hope and necessity of care.