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Are Flowers Art?

Are Flowers Art?

Richard Diebenkorn's painting with corresponding flowers (Valerie Atkisson)

Valerie Atkisson / Art Bistro

October 12, 2009

You may have heard of Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” a piece of music that he composed about going to a gallery and seeing different paintings. The music changed according to what the paintings communicated to the composer. This composition has long been an inspiration of collaborative projects between visual artists and artists of other genres, one of which I saw at the De Young Museum (part of the city’s Fine Arts Museums group) last weekend. I was visiting “headquarters” for work, and this museum was on my agenda.

At first glance I had to wonder why the florists’ arrangements had been so prominently displayed in the museum. Then I understood that area florists had been invited to make a flower arrangements (in some cases it was more like a sculpture) in reaction to a work of art. In fact, this “24th Annual Bouquets to Art” was a fundraiser for the Museum. In most cases, this was a difficult and uncomfortable experience. The fragrance in the galleries was intoxicatingly beautiful but some of the flower arrangements were so badly envisioned that they did not hold there own as works of art or flower arrangements. There were a number of pleasant surprises though. I’ve picked out a few of the best to show you. You can judge for yourself.

I did find some that were interesting in relation to the work of art that inspired them:

This one seemed to have a lot of personality and the flowers seemed to match the origins of where this work of art was made (South America 16th Century)

The painting is wonderful, but this arrangement is very creative of itself. As a flower arrangement, definitely unusual, as a sculpture, it captures my interest.

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This is not the best painting by Gauguin. However, I love this flower arrangement in reaction to his work. The bulbous nature of the pot, flowers, and color really work for me. By itself it is a beautiful arrangement and isn’t trying too hard to be art.

You may not see what I would call “Black Trumpets with Cinderblock” at your next wedding, but this is the first arrangement that really caught my attention. I loved it!

This piece was the show stopper. A green flower totem towered over the gallery. By itself, it is a work of art that could be in any museum. It is too bad that it will wilt and die. As an installation I’d give it five stars! I love the close-up below.

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