The housefly on the headscarf in Hendrick wan Wueluwe’s Artist and his Wife (1496) is a trompe-l’oeil. Close inspection reveals that it is depicted not resting on the contoured fabric of the headscarf but rather on the flat surface plane of the painting. The beholder is invited to admire the verisimilitude of the portraiture and still life, and meanwhile to brush the fly away from the painting’s surface.

Questions arising:

  • What can the trompe l’oeil genre add to our understanding of contemporary ‘Super-artist’ practices, and specifically how an artist’s repeated trademark or pattern might relate to the material artworks that contribute to the pattern?
  • Is it helpful to think about Emin’s trademark/poncif as a trompe l’oeil fly painted on the surface of the gallery artworks she produces, using verisimilitude both to reach out into the world of the beholder and to draw back from it?
  • What about the Kardashian brand?