For this exhibition, the theme I created was Floral. I chose this theme because flowers in art history are very versatile with symbolic meanings, but are universally known to any and every human being. Flowers in art provoke emotions and influence our responses depending on the ways they are portrayed and the time period the artwork was made in. Personally, I have a love for the beauty each flower obtains. Realistic or abstract, each flower has its own unique sense of beauty that is displayed throughout the color, detail, brushstrokes that created it, or by the scenery surrounding it. Whether the flower is fully alive, wilted or dead, the life cycle of a flower can affect the mood of any given artwork. Flowers are similar to humans in a sense, which I think makes us most attracted and intrigued by them. They are similar in the fact that they grow, “live and breathe” life, and eventually have an end. The floral artworks I chose for this exhibit each have a different taste for how flowers can be perceived in artworks of different styles and periods. From showing the anatomical features of a flower to finding symbolism that depicts parts of reality, each artwork has its own representation of what a flower is and why it stands for what it does. Some artists have been known to use flowers for decorative purposes, while other have been known to show their everyday purpose in our lives. Either way, flowers are a common depiction throughout history. This exhibition intends to show the use of the flower in art and the deeper meaning behind these works.
Tulipa Gesneriana by Johannes Simon Holtzbecher is a naturalistic observation of tulips. This painting shows the very detailed, anatomical features of each of these flowers. I feel as if these flowers are almost on display with the realistic style he portrays and the three dimensional depth added through the shades and highlights. It seem as if the flowers are just sitting on the cream paper. The folds and bends of the leaves and petals are very intricate and evidently show how observant this artist was. The symmetry of this piece is unified by the transition from tall to short (flowers), along with the leaves moving in opposite directions according to the side they are on. This helps lead the viewers eye to the center flower in which it’s two leaves go in the direction of each “sides” leaves. When choosing this composition, I took all of these characteristics and minute details into account because these are what make this painting what it is. This piece is different than any other floral piece because of its detailed, compositionally aligned array of flowers that is not necessarily symbolic, but scientific and naturalistic.
Van Gogh’s Sunflowers have sparked the attention of many viewers and have become a popular piece that is well known throughout the world. Personally, I really love this artwork for the challenge presented to the artist who made this piece. Van Gogh struggled to grasp the concept of yellow on yellow, but took on this challenge when making this painting along with four others similar to it. The style he uses is post- impressionist. He uses oil on canvas with thick, quick brushstrokes that give a sense of texture to the flowers. These flowers are shown as a still life in a vase with a simple wall color as the background. It was placed in the Yellow House of Arles as a decorative floral piece rather than for symbolic purposes. I feel like this composition is right for this exhibit because not only does it produce a beautiful display of sunflowers in an unusual variation of the color yellow, but also it brings a sense of happiness and hope to the viewer.
Water Lilies by Claude Monet is a great representation of how flowers can be displayed in a natural scene rather than in a still life. This painting is an impressionist style that shows heavy brush strokes that are visible to the ***** eye when looking at it ** close. With the colors used and the cropping so close **, sometimes viewers do not realize they are looking at water lilies in a natural setting or even flowers at all. I chose this painting not just for the natural scene the flowers were shown in, but because of how the artist emotionally shows the brushstroke style and wants your focus to be more on that than the actual painting itself. These brushstrokes seem to unify and blend the lily pads and flowers together to make them seem as a whole. Although this is based on a natural, real life scene, it is shown in an abstract manner. This composition is well put together and interprets floral images in a way that no one before him had shown them before. He reconstructs the flower in a way that shows others that it is not just about the beauty and realistic flower, but it is about what goes beyond that.
Georgia O’Keeffe’s painting of the Cow’s Skull with Calico Roses is very simplistic with a remote feeling that corresponds to the black and white contrast used. To me, the black in the background feels as if it is centered with the ***** of the skull separating both parts of the bone to discover something extraordinary inside. Georgia saw beauty in animal skulls and felt as if the *****s in it almost showed something that was “keenly alive”. I chose this artwork because the flowers she uses in this painting are not the main focal point of the piece, but rather decorate the main subject to give a sense of beauty to the skull and environment it was founded in. Not only do these flowers display beauty, but they also bring a sense of liveliness that makes it seem like it has been brought back to life. The flowers shown are different from other floral paintings because they are not real. The artificial flowers are apart of the southwestern American culture and were used to decorate Hispanic graves. I think this detail is interesting because to me the concept of the flowers is to make the skull seem life-like, but the flowers are not even real to begin with.
Andy Warhol’s Christmas Poinsettias take floral artwork in a completely different direction. His pop culture style is incorporated into this photograph that has yet another display of fake flowers. I chose this artwork for its interpretation behind that photograph. Although these flowers are a symbol of beauty, there is much more to them than that. They are a mass produced item that billions of people buy around Christmas time. This display of a flower isn’t alive, or defined by its usual nature. It is defined by consumerism. The haziness (out-of-focus) of these flowers makes one wonder about the affects of materialistic items on consumers and why we focus on the “fake” aspects of reality and other concerns rather than life itself. Through Andy Warhol’s photograph we begin to see how the representations on flowers are changing to more diverse roles that do not necessarily deal with the flower itself, but the psychology of the events in certain time periods.