Contemporary Vanitas and Memento Mori Art by Michele Melcher
Michele Melcher is an artist living in Carversville, a historic area of Southeastern Pennsylvania. She attended The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, receiving a BFA in Illustration in 1997. For the past 15 years, she has worked as a freelance illustrator specializing in advertising, editorial, and portraiture. All the while she has participated in gallery shows working in several different mediums including watercolor, pen and ink, graphite and most recently, oil.
Her latest paintings pay homage to the decadence of 18th and 19th-century portrait masters as well as her interest in vanitas and memento mori art.
The series,“Dead Masters”, pays homage to my interest in 18th and 19th century portraiture as well as vanitas and memento mori art. My background in illustration includes a lot of editorial work, a large percentage of that being portraiture. Much of that is straight to the point, representational digital portraiture and at times, dry. While transitioning mediums and teaching myself oils I was delighted by the pure decadence with which some of the aforementioned painters represented their subjects. I love the larger-than-life hairstyles, lavish clothing and opulent accessories. In regard to vanitas and memento mori art: it’s fascinating to learn about the images and symbolism of these two sometimes misunderstood genres as well as the pure scientific aspect of studying and drawing the workings of the human skeleton.