Fresh Cut: Flowers from the Permanent Collection
Inspired by the plein air paintings of Lois Dodd, whose retrospective at the Kemper Museum is on view February 8–August 4, 2012, this exhibition brings together works that convey varied approaches to the long-standing tradition of painting flowers. In the heyday of New York’s male-dominated, mid-century art scene, Dodd was wary of flower painting as a stereotypically feminine practice. By the 1990s, however, she embraced the vibrant blooms of a neighbor’s garden in Maine as subject.
Fresh Cut demonstrates the depth of this vernacular subject. Robert Mapplethorpe’s Irises (1988) exhibits the exquisite formal, even sculptural qualities of the iris flower, while Ana Maria Hernando’s Cloud Flower I (2010) abstracts the petals and patterns of a fresh bloom. Linda Lighton highlights the sensual aspects of flowers through her seductive ceramic sculptures, and Lezley Saar turns the floral still life tradition on its head, literally, in Geneva Saar Agustsson—Labeled Autistic (1998). Seen together, these works convey the versatility of the floral subject, one not easily relegated to just one category.