David Ligare (American, b. 1945)
Still Life with Grape Juice and Sandwiches (Xenia), 1994
Oil on canvas
20 x 24 in. (50.8 x 61 cm)

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David Ligare’s classically inspired still lifes demonstrate his belief that art can reflect “not just aesthetic, but moral or ethical decisions.” Ligare has volunteered at a homeless shelter in his hometown of Salinas, California, where he served the grape juice and sandwiches depicted here–an act he views as a conceptual component of this work.
The painting’s title, Xenia, refers to the ancient Greek concept of hospitality, which included the practice of providing guests and strangers with baskets of food. According to Ligare, “the picture is truly complete if it inspires others to enjoy the privilege of serving those ‘strangers’ among us who are in such need.”
The presence of this contemporary work in a gallery of predominantly 19th-century trompe l’oeil paintings points to the persistent resonance of the still life genre, which can reflect both an artist’s mastery of technique and the philosophical, spiritual, or moral questions of an age.

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