Oil on canvas
68 x 67
State Russian Museum
David Sterenberg’s StilI-Life with Cherries is one of the “classical” works in the oeuvre of an artist who had, by the early 1920s, already produced a series of extremely original still lifes. The artist looks down at the scene from above, placing the flat table top parallel to the plane of the canvas. The plate with cherries and the knife on the edge of the table are also viewed from above. The texture of the wood is lovingly brought out; the form of the table top in the bottom right-hand corner is strangely elongated. The cherries and the knife are extremely lifelike, almost to the point of moulage, while the background is cold and empty. Although StiII-Life with Cherries pays tribute to the Constructivist penchant for “made objects” and “shown materials”, the artist does so by painterly means. Sterenberg’s still-lifes of 1919 are often interpreted as reflections on the hungry years of war and revolution in Russia. This particular work is also a unique paraphrase to Breakfasf (1916), which depicts a knife and cherries in a similar artistic key.
Sterenberg, David Petrovich (1881, Zhitomir — 1948, Moscow)
Painter, graphic artist, theatrical designer, and book illustrator, David Sterenbergstudied at a private studio in Odessa, before attending Académie Vitti in Paris from 1907 to 1912. His work was shown since 1912 at exhibitions such as Salon De Printemps, Salon d’Automne and Salon des Indépendants in Paris (1912–1917). Sterenberg was Commissar for Art in Petrograd from 1917 to 1919, head of the fine arts department at IZO Narkompros (1918–1920) and amember of the Four Arts Association. Throughout the 1920s, hetaught at the Higher Art and Technical Studios/Higher Art and Technical Institute in Moscow and was a founding member and chairman of the Society of Easel Artists. Director of the Russian section of Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes (Paris, 1925), member of the Union of German Book Artists (1928) andfirst deputy chairman of the Moscow branch of the Union of Soviet Artists (1932–1937), Sterenberg washonoured as an Arts Worker of the RSFSR in 1930.