Check out our artist collabs in support of TALA

Behind the Tablescape

Behind the Tablescape

Where simple moments speak in stillness.

Tablescapes have been an important canvas for understanding our histories, social change, modern art movements and connections between people. These artworks aren’t just about fruits and dishes; they’re windows into different worlds and perspectives.

The term ‘tablescape’ comes from the mix of ‘landscape’ and ‘table.’ It’s about arranging things onto a table like a work of art. This concept draws back to as early as the Old Testament and ultimately inspired artists to capture these detailed scenes in paintings, prints, or even photos.

Frans Snyders, Fruit Stall, 17th Century.

Icons like Frans Snyders and Paul Cezanne are some of the first artists to paint tablescapes in the still-life style. Snyders’ Fruit Stall shows the social hierarchy of the time based on where goods were displayed on the table. Cezanne’s tablescapes were the first to show multiple perspectives in one still life, introducing an entirely new way of depicting visuals and opening the gates to modern and abstract artwork. His Still Life with Apples and Peaches is more than a picture of fruit—it’s a story told with colors and textures.

Paul Cezanne, Still Life with Peaches and Pears, 1890.

And tablescapes are continually ever-changing. Modern artists like Chuck Ramirez and Wayne Thiebaud (who we’re lucky enough to have in our collection) use photography or mixed media to create new versions of tablescapes. Ramirez takes pictures of everyday consumerism while Thiebaud paints various cakes and desserts to capture the feeling of nostalgia. Fittingly, we placed Suckers I (as shown below) in the dining area of one of our recent installations.

Chuck Ramirez, Seven Days Birthday Party, 2003.
Wayne Thiebaud, Suckers, State I, 1968.

Denise Prince’s work encompasses the concept of the female gaze. She was inspired by baroque tablescapes that were always set up by and painted by a male, despite the depicted objects from that time were actually all female responsibility. Along with 1950s cookbooks, Prince used this concept to bring the female gaze into her work, playing with different perceptions.

Denise Prince, Conceptual Still Life With Sea Urchin, 2021.

These tablescapes are more than just objects; they’re about people and their stories. And even though there might not always be people depicted in the artworks, you can somehow imagine yourself there, at that exact moment in time. They allow you to include yourself in the story and give it your own meaning.

From old classics to new approaches, tablescapes keep evolving. But ultimately, they’re reminders of how important it is to connect with others and share stories around a table.

Artwork pictured at top of post: Denise Prince, Conceptual Still Life with Scarlet Ibis, 2021.