In Still Life, Bourne Estate (2002), Wolfgang Tilllmans (b.1968) captures a view of his windowsill at his London home in Clerkenwell in the early 2000s. Looking down on the windowsill from above, we see a scattered collection of items including a broken wine glass, a bowl, and a metal spoon.
While this collection of objects may appear mundane and unrelated, Still Life, Bourne Estate is replete with art historical references. Tillmans draws heavily upon the tradition of Dutch vanitas painting that was prevalent in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The unlit candle, semi obscured behind a carafe, recalls the extinguished candles of vanitas paintings that served to symbolise the transient, impermanent nature of life. Meanwhile, twisting plants and sprouting root vegetables make allusions to life, growth, and fertility. In Still Life, Bourne Estate then, Tillmans transforms everyday objects into a complex meditation on themes of life and death.