Hardcover Smyth-sewn casebound book, with jacket
128 pages with more than 100 full-color reproductions. Includes Index of Artworks and Chronology
Size: 10 x 10 in.
Eric Wert’s flowers, fruits, and vegetables are the stuff of a florist’s or farmer’s perfection—objects of incomparable beauty, hyperrealistic, radiant, and arranged in a tumult that’s filled with life. Within this bounty, the artist also recognizes the realities of the garden, forest, and field: snails, slugs, and ants; ladybugs, bees, and butterflies; leaves that decay, petals that fall, fruits that bruise, and vegetables that scar. These things come from the soil and, given time, there they will return with the rest of us. What remains beyond everything is the painting.
Commentary on the wondrous nature of life and death, Wert’s compositions also exist within the tradition of still life, taking cues from masters such as Rachel Ruysch, Henri Fantin-Latour, Ambrosius Bosschaert, Jan Davidsz. de Heem, and more. His backdrops—intricate tapestries rendered with historical accuracy—support each disheveled bouquet and overflowing centerpiece in form, color, and mood.
Born in 1976 and raised in Oregon on twenty-five acres of tree- and critter-filled land, Wert developed an observant eye for the details amidst a visual onslaught. His studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago led to work as a scientific illustrator at the Field Museum of Natural History. After earning an MFA from Northwestern University, the artist began to create the paintings documented here: a body of work that establishes Wert as a modern master.
Eric Wert: Still Life chronicles the artist’s rise to maturity, from otherworldly graphite drawings of cacti to the stunning oil paintings he is now known for. In essays, critic Richard Speer details Wert’s artistic evolution, and longtime friend Shawn Vandor places Wert’s art within a wider academic and cultural context. Finally, the artist details his meticulous process, providing a rare peek at the way these dripping, tumbling, tangled, restless depictions of flowers and produce are made.
About the Authors
Richard Speer is an art critic, curator, and author based in Portland, Oregon. His essays and reviews have appeared in ARTnews, art ltd., Visual Art Source, Artpulse, Surface Design, Salon, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune. He has written books and catalogue essays about leading modern and contemporary artists, among them Sam Francis, Matt Lamb, Jun Kaneko, Peter Halley, Eva Hild, and Michael Kessler.
Shawn Vandor is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. He has a background in literature and philosophy, having received a bachelor of arts degree from Bard College and a master of fine arts degree from the California Institute of the Arts. He has written at length about the history, policy, and ethics of artificial insemination, as well as a variety of other topics.