Image Copyright Restricted

Still Life

Sam Taylor-Johnson (British, born in 1967)


Duration: 3 minutes, 44 seconds Aspect Ratio: 4:3

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

35mm film / DVD; color, silent.

Not On View


Contemporary Art


Film and video

3 minutes, 44 seconds

In this piece Taylor-Johnson (formerly Taylor-Wood) references vanitas, a type of still-life prominent in 16th- and 17th-century Northern European painting. Artists working in this style paired symbols of death and decay with fruits and flowers, a haunting reminder of the fleeting nature of life on earth and the decadence of worldly pleasures. In Taylor-Johnson’s time-based work, a tray of beautiful fruit decomposes until nothing is left but a formless grey mass. The cheap plastic pen on the table, however, remains unchanged, quietly raising the environmental question of what will be left behind after we are gone.


2008, sold by Jay Jopling/White Cube, London, to the MFA. (Accession Date: September 17, 2008)

Credit Line

Catherine and Paul Buttenwieser Fund


Reproduced with permission.