Carl Grauer’s Noxzema Jar (2017) has already been sold. I’d advise collectors to purchase his other still lifes while they still can. They’re mature, thoughtful, and very well painted. They’re also ever so slightly nostalgic… Grauer may be said to memorialise or musealise the present as it becomes the past. Impressively, this is achieved with such understatement that it belies the trope of musealisation itself.


‘Since the 1980s, it seems, the focus has shifted from present futures to present pasts,’[1] argues Andreas Huyssen. His Present Pasts (2013) focussed on the literary, cinematic, and monumental rather than such comparatively lowlier forms of artist expression as the still life. Nonetheless, it’s precisely this comparative lowliness or modesty that makes these paintings so convincing. It’s fitting that the still life remains perhaps the most traditional of the painter’s crafts.  


Grauer’s still lifes suggest an imaginary museum commemorating our everyday bric-à-brac: old jars; perfume bottles; salt and pepper shakers; pliers; clips; even laptop chargers. In fact, the laptop charger is my favourite. Computers. It’s difficult to think of a more perfect example of the present becoming the past so quickly. There’s something especially collectible about these paintings. Perhaps, because the objects already seem to have been collected, curated, and arranged by the artist himself.


One final detail. Grauer’s still lifes are painted on copper. He always leaves a small part exposed. It catches the light just as these objects may have once caught the light. Nonetheless, there’s something tangibly treasurable about the gleam of metal lurking behind the oil paint. It makes these still lifes even more unique than they already are.


Click here to read the full feature, which includes an interview with the artist.



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