Flower Art ~ By Major Artists ~ Floral Art ~ Art History
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This is a complete, highly visual powerpoint presentation about the Flower Painting Art as done by major painters in Art History. There are 16 actual slides in the preview. Download them to see if the show will suit you. There are also four thumbnail views on this listing.
Bring up the subject of painting flowers and some might immediately think of young Regency Era women. They were expected to develop accomplishments and painting watercolors of flora and fauna was acceptable.
This is not an accurate account, however, of how paintings of flowers came about in the history of art.
Flowers were prized by the nobility and the wealthy centuries ago. It was a sign of your great status to have a garden, a library stocked with books and art works about the garden and so forth. Thus, men higher up in class were fully involved in gardens and flowers. It was not considered a “woman’s hobby.”
Impressionists, Post Impressionists, and Fauvists amply covered flower painting. If one wants beautiful representations of flowers in art, all three of these movements contain outstanding art works.
Among the Impressionists, Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Camille Pissarro and others, painted flowers the world fell in love with generation after generation.
Likewise the Post Impressionists had the prolific floral output of Vincent van Gogh, along with the flower paintings of Paul Gauguin, Henri Rousseau and others.
Henri Matisse and Raoul Dufy applied their vivid true colors to flowers after the above artists.
The problem which presented after all of these gorgeous flower masterpieces, is what would the artists of succeeding generations do next? If they did the same kind of painting, they would be called derivative and be dismissed. So each had to come up with something different as each new Movement sprang into being.
Some of these movements had no interest in pursuing the beauty of the flower so it had to be approached as subject matter from a whole different vantage point.
In the early 20th century, the Cubists fragmented the flower into geometric shapes. The flowers were made into cylinders or spheres or orbs. These looked nothing like what one would receive in the real world as a flower.
Kandinsky deconstructed the floral arrangement so that one had to study the whole of the canvas for some time to see the splotches of each flower and the base of the vase.
Paul Klee used mixed media to depict abstractions of flowers.
Emil Nolde took the suggestive shape of his flowers further than the Impressionist style and used watercolor to increase the fuzziness of the images.
Print media by masters like M.C. Escher also used flowers as subject matter.
There were artists who still painted conventionally beautiful flowers. There would always be a market for such paintings just as there would always be a botanical art market. However, these artists could never be in the vanguard of whatever was the new Movement.
If one thinks “20th century” and “flower painting”, there is one artist who particularly comes to mind. This is Georgia O’Keeffe.
What she did was incredibly close up depictions of flowers. No one had ever painted them in such an extreme close up fashion before.
Because she was a woman, this got some critics thinking in terms of her painting women’s sexuality with her flower forms. O’Keeffe denied this association.
So what was really different about O’Keeffe’s flowers was the vantage point from which they were painted. The reason that the critics thought of sexual organs was because, brought in so close like that, it was evident that is what flowers were: the sexual organs of plants. The critics hadn’t noticed that until it was so enlarged.
Before, Asian art and African art had influenced the art works of white males with mainly European backgrounds. Now the actual people who were non-white painted the art work themselves.
Because these artists were from very different cultures, the ensuing art works looked very different. Like O’Keeffe, they were painting from different vantage points.
The Asians frequently modernized their ancient work with brush and ink on depicting the flower. These were extremely colorful compared to the early versions of such paintings.
An African American brought different shapes, colors and juxtapositions to floral compositions. Color combinations previously thought to be too jarring came in as early as the 1930s and 1940s.
Some artists were not interested in the flower itself but in using it in some unexpected way. Surrealists, Symbolists and Magic Realists were not concerned with celebrating the actual beauty of the flower but loved plopping it somewhere it had previously never been seen.
Pop Art let in flower images which would have never been considered art previously. Pop Art was flooded with images from advertising and the graphic arts but used in fine art ways. Andy Warhol led the way with multiples of such a flower painting in 1970.
Roy Lichtenstein used flowers in his comic book style borrowed from the comics industry.
Polka dot flowers set on polka dot tables in loud clashing colors also emerged.
Flowers could be stenciled over a person’s face or pasted into a collage.
Flowers were freely used in all forms of print media and collage.
The Japanese brought flowers into their anime productions.
Some artists even would display flowers in every stage of their development, and especially the death stage, as installation art.
It remains popular subject matter and the next incarnation of using the flower in art is always just over the horizon.