In the 20th cent. both American and European artists' most characteristic subject matter was still life. The cubist artists, Picasso, Braque, and Gris, painted still-life subjects predominantly. The artists in many schools of abstract painting, beginning with Cézanne and continuing to the present day, forsook the objective representation of still life and developed myriad varieties of treatment of the subject, concentrating on color, form, and composition. Occasionally they painted other subjects, applying to these their still-life stylistic techniques. The painters of the pop art movement and their followers frequently criticized contemporary social values using, almost exclusively, still-life subject matter. They chose objects of popular culture relevant to their thesis such as soup cans and comic strips.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.