With origins in the Middle Ages and Ancient Greek/Roman art, still life paintings give the artist more leeway in the arrangement of design elements within a composition than do paintings of other types of subjects such as landscape or portraiture.
Traditionally, some of the objects in a still life were likely to have selected for their symbolic meaning, but this symbolism eludes most modern-day visitors. Some modern still life breaks the two-dimensional barrier and employs three-dimensional mixed media, and uses found objects.
In the last three decades of the 20th century, and in the early years of the 21st century still life has expanded beyond the boundary of a frame. Especially with the computer age, and the rise of computer art and digital art the nature and definition of still life has changed. Some mixed media still life work employing found objects, photography, video and sound, and even spilling out from ceiling to floor, filling an entire room in a gallery. Computer-generated graphics have expanded the techniques available to still life artists.