Still Life Vanitas with Pitcher, 2010
9 x 21 x 21 in
Glazed porcelain with overglaze details
In the arts, vanitas is a type of symbolic work of art especially associated with Northern European still life painting in Flanders and the Netherlands in the 16th and 17th centuries. Often the works involve a skull and candle.
Shaw’s piece reminds us that life itself is fleeting, but art is lasting, emphasizing the simple tools of artmaking, the inks and paints and sketchbooks from which art begins. He humorously includes handwrit- ten notes and phone numbers scribbled down lest he forget and then commits them to a more lasting record in the work. The browning of the pages of the book are also replicated with fidelity so that the work reflects the visual effects of time.