Whether ancient or modern-an image found within an Egyptian tomb or a painting by van Gogh, a verse from the Book of Amos or a passage from Joyce-the works that Davenport discusses are parsed and analyzed for the clues within silent objects (the fruit basket, the postage stamp, the clock) with brilliant erudition. Feats of maverick detective work, Davenport's readings of art never fail to surprise and inform.
Focusing on a genre that is ostensibly "static," these meditations reveal the dynamic forces that motivate and shape the use of still life, explaining why and how painters have employed this form to such vital effect. As Davenport says here, "Culture is like a magnetic field, a patterned energy shaping history. It is invisible, even unsuspected, until a receiver sensitive enough to pick up its messages can give it a voice. When Ezra Pound said that poets are the antennae of the race, he meant radio antennae, not insects' only." Readers, whether they are newcomers or devoted fans of Davenport's extraordinary work will discover that Objects on a Table broadcasts the energy of cultural patterns in a way that will awaken them to the music within.