New reads for plant lovers
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Bloom: Art, Flowers and Emotion
Rachel Giles; Tate, £25
Beyond the well-known associations between flowers and emotions (lilies for grief, poppies for remembrance), artists have used flowers to convey a multitude of emotions through history. A new book from London’s Tate gallery explores the depths of this relationship through 100 floral works, arranged into chapters such as “Joy and Wonder”, “Lust” and “Ritual and Mystery”. “You can almost hear Sidney Nolan’s flowers scream”, writes Rachel Giles in her introduction to the book, while Ghitta Caiserman-Roth’s Sunflower 3 is “a symbol for optimism, vitality and creativity” with its complex pattern of seeds inside the flower head, inspired by the Fibonacci sequence.
An Illustrated Catalog of American Fruits & Nuts
Atelier Editions, £44
In 1887, the US Division of Pomology set out to create a national register of fruits. With photography not widely accessible, the department enlisted William Henry Prestele, one of the leading botanical artists of the time, to paint watercolours of evolving fruit and nut varieties, alongside specimens being introduced by plant explorers. More than 7,500 paintings were commissioned over the 50 years it took to establish the collection. This new title presents a selection of the most delectable specimens. From the vivid green oranges grown in Florida to the delicate yellow cherries found in Michigan, the book provides a sumptuous journey of discovery.
Cig Harvey; Monacelli, $60
“There is precedence for being drawn to colour and nature when dying or surrounded by death,” writes photographer and writer Cig Harvey in her new monograph. Josef Albers dedicated his last years to the study of colour, she continues, while Derek Jarman wrote Chroma, a garden journal, while dying of an Aids-related illness. To this history, Harvey has added her own contribution: a photographic meditation on flowers and colour that was born when a sick friend asked her to send her new pictures every day as she gradually lost her senses. The result is a glorious, sensual, poignant collection of botanical photographs, drawings and writings, which is part-art book, part-historical guide and part-poetry collection.
Nothing but Flowers
Karma Books, $60
Last year saw Karma, the New York-based gallery and bookshop, open an acclaimed exhibition comprising artworks by 59 different artists, all depicting flowers. Standout works included Peter Doig’s luscious oil painting of a lemon branch in bloom, Shannon Cartier Lucy’s hyper-real painting of ribbon-adorned daffodils and Amy Sillman’s delicate pansy acrylics. For those who missed the show, a catalogue of the works is now available, enriched with texts from some of the most eminent art writers working today, including Hilton Als and Helen Molesworth.