Vanitas is a category of symbolic works of art associated with still life paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries. The concept of Vanitas derives its meaning from the Biblical phrase  “Vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitas” (“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity”) and is situated in the space between the modern-day concepts of vanity and futility.

This is an ongoing creative project including photographs of temporary installations on the ‘Theme and Variations’ of Vanitas, as well as associated resources (readings and pieces of music). It is an experiment in situating some of the key Vanitas symbols in contemporary everyday life.

Here are a few examples of original vanitas art (from Wikipedia):


Pier Francesco Cittadini, “Vanitas-Stillleben mit Violine, Notenbuch, Blumenvase und Schädel” (1681, oil on canvas)


Adriaen van Utrecht, “Vanitas – Still Life with Bouquet and Skull” (early 17th century, oil on canvas)


Pieter Claesz, “Vanitas Still Life with Self-Portrait” (c. 1628, oil on oak)


1. Theme: the Original one

Theme - the original

2. Variation I: the Ethnographic one

Variation I - the ethnographic

3. Variation II: Vanitas Noir



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