As a complement to the paintings from the Mauritshuis, the Frick is presenting Transforming Still Life Painting, Rob and Nick Carter’s modern rejoinder to the vanitas tradition. The inspiration for the work is Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder’s (1573– 1621) Vase with Flowers in a Window (c. 1618), a renowned painting in the Mauritshuis’s collection (not in the exhibition due to its fragile condition). A reminder of the ephemeral nature of living things, the painting features a vase of meticulously detailed flowers displayed on a windowsill in front of a bright sky and picturesque landscape. In the Carter film, Bosschaert’s image changes gradually over the course of three hours: flowers wither, insects devour the tender foliage, and darkness descends over the distant mountains and river. The film animates the image and, like Bosschaert’s painting, illustrates the transient nature of earthly existence.
Rob and Nick Carter, still from Transforming Still Life Painting, 2012. Three-hour looped, digitally rendered film, frame, and Apple Mac. Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague. © Rob and Nick Carter
Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, Vase with Flowers in a Window, c. 1618. Oil on panel. Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague