Luis Meléndez- Still Life and Little Luxuries
Today, in my ongoing effort to keep myself culturally aware, I visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to see the Luis Meléndez Still Life exhibit. I dressed for the occasion (taupe peasant skirt, striped shirt, ballet flats, wayfarers and messenger bag- perfect for for the museum) and journeyed to LACMA by myself for an afternoon of indulgence in art.
My art history knowledge is pretty abundant when it comes to French artists (thanks to my stay in Paris), as well as for religious art (thanks to Art History 101 at USC... Virgin and Child with Saints, anyone??) so I knew little about the Spanish painter Luis Meléndez (pictured above in his self portrait) going into today's excursion. I am so glad I went- they didn't call Mr. Meléndez the 'master of Spanish still life' for nothing.
His art was so vivid, so impeccably realistic I almost felt like I was looking at photographs. Meléndez painted everything from fish to figs, melons to grapes and the bread... let's just say I was longing for some tapas after the museum...
My favorite painting of his was the Still Life with Chocolate Service, Bread Roll and Biscuits (pictured above) painted in 1770. At the time, chocolate was a novelty from Central America and the Spanish upper class was obsessed with drinking it in the form of hot chocolate. I love the idea of chocolate as an exotic and coveted item- 1770's own version of a little luxury.
Sadly, like so many other artists, Luis Meléndez did not receive the acclaim he deserved in his lifetime and died a poor man in 1780. But his artistic genius is greatly appreciated today... and rightfully so.
The Luis Meléndez exhibit runs at LACMA through January 3, 2010.
www.lacma.org for more information