A typical Audrey Flack painting is World War II (Vanitas). Okay, before we get into the painting, what does vanitas mean? It derives from sixteenth and seventeenth century Dutch painting in which still-life items are chosen and arranged to make the viewer contemplate the "vanities" and fleeting qualities of life leading ultimately to death. Flack's 1976-77 painting is a vibrantly colored still-life of elegant vermeil tea cups, saucers, serving dishes, and candlesticks, pearls, inviting candies, a fragile but beautiful butterfly, and rose, an heirloom pocket watch, all arrayed over top of Margaret Bourke-White's famous, horrific photograph, The Living Dead of Buchenwald. It's trompe l'oeil realism further enforces the illusion that the still-life items were things momentarily abandoned, yet never to be seen again by those who lost their lives in the Holocaust concentration camps--hence the vanitas element.
|Queen Catherine, 1998, Audrey Flack,|
(This and other works by Audrey Flack
can be seen at www.audreyflack.com )