Posted by: cboulay | January 29, 2009

mark doty, part I


Still Life with a Glass and Oysters, ca. 1640

Oil on wood 9 7/8 x 7 1/2 in. (25.1 x 19.1 cm)
Purchase, 1871 (71.78)
Signed (upper right): J.De heem

To zoom in to the image, go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art web site.

Here is another painting Doty discusses, (p. 21) Still Life with Quinces, Medlars and a Glass by Martinus Nellius.


See many more Dutch still life paintings at the Rijksmuseum website.



  1. The most interesting part of this Doty response for me was his realization of how intimacy plays a vital role in what individualists view as important.

    “Intimacy, says the phenomenologist Gaston Bachelard, is the highest value. [. . .] something about it rings true, finally–that what we want is to be brought into relation, to be inside, within. Perhaps it’s true that nothing matters more to us than that.” (6)

    In this class we have been trying to define, what is art? Here Doty says that art is something we can relate to, that if it (the art piece) affects us, than it must be displaying some event, person, place, idea, problem, really anything that we as the viewer have experience with. I find this relatively true because often times we do not become involved with something that isn’t of interest to us.

  2. I have always been both interested and open to art and learning things about artwork, however I have never particularly had any interest in still-life paintings. Doty opened my eyes to the possibilites these still-lifes hold in a way that I never even close to fathomed.
    If I had seen this painting a month or even a day ago, I would not have even looked twice. Doty was right in saying that “…the still life resides in absolute silence.” This is precisely the reason I would not have looked at it for more than a couple of seconds before dismissing it. Reading Doty however gave me new insight into alternative works of art. He shed light unto the fact that these painting in fact do have things to say and they are more than just a lemon peel on a wine glass. They have things to be said and his question was, “At the end of time, will that word be said?”

  3. I thought that Doty’s writing was overly descriptive. There was some nice description but ,most of the time, it was just lost on me. The thing he said about art being more about intimacy was on the spot for me. At first, like him, I had resisted the idea because there seem to be so much to say about art that intimacy doesn’t seem to be so important. However, as it sank in while i was reading it, it doesn’t seem so crazy. The idea where intimacy is the most important seem to be true about most of the arts. If this is true though, what makes artwork like “David” or “The Sistine Chapel” so intimate?

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