The New York Botanical Garden is a museum of plants, an educational institution, and a scientific research organization. Founded in 1891 & now a National Historic Landmark, it is one of the greatest botanical gardens in the world. http://www.nybg.org/
While attending the opening of the Wild Medicine Exhibit at the New York Botanical Gardens, we were pleasantly surprised to have our eyes stumble upon the gorgeous sculptures of acclaimed Spanish artist Manolo Valdés. Created specifically for Garden’s plant collections, Valdés…
Malaysian artist Hong Yi set out with one goal—to play with her food in ways not seen since Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Though, admittedly, her methods are a bit more nuanced than those of Richard Dreyfuss.
We’ve been living with the grayscale aesthetic for so long that it almost seems as if things were never green to begin with. But the reminders of spring are creeping in from all sides, now. I don’t suppose there’s cause for complaint, hmm? —MN
Visit The New York Botanical Garden between May 18 and October 27, 2013 and you’re in for quite the treat. Internationally-renowned contemporary artist Philip Haas has created four huge, 15-foot-tall portrait sculptures that each represent the different seasons. Haas references classical Italian Renaissance portraiture, specifically the works of Renaissance master Giuseppe Arcimboldo, while putting a new twist on his classical forms by blowing up their scale and changing the medium. Two-dimensional painted portraits have now become somewhat crazy-looking three-dimensional sculptures.
Aptly titled Four Seasons, the giant heads have all been created with organic material that’s native to each season. For example, in Winter, the skin is made from over-sized bark and the hair consists of gnarled tree limbs and ivy whereas for Summer, the human portrait is made out of bright bunches of flowers.
The four sculptures will sit in the courtyard of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory facing one another in a square configuration. Visitors are encouraged to walk around and in between the works, taking in the whole fantasy-like experience.
Haas states, “Whether I’m working in painting, sculpture, or film, what fascinates me is the idea of transformation. Through the Four Seasons, I am re-contextualizing the world of classical Renaissance portraiture using the transformative elements of scale, material, and dimensionality, thereby altering the viewer’s perspective.”
The New York Botanical Garden Chief Executive Officer and The William C. Steere Sr. President Gregory Long states, “We are thrilled to present Philip Haas’s remarkable Four Seasons here at The New York Botanical Garden. This body of work is ideal for the garden as it speaks to the present, while reflecting on the past. The contemporary forms rooted in the history of art will resonate not only with our core audience but also those passionate about contemporary art.”
The Museum of Modern Art’s PS1 outpost in Long Island City is about to become a bit more environmentally conscious, thanks to an upcoming collaboration of concerned artists, economists, ecologists, architects, and thinkers at large. Their goal? To address through art and interaction the challenges faced by our civilization—and the natural world around it—as we barrel along.
According to the curator, MoMA’s Klaus Biesenbach, “EXPO 1: New York focuses on some of the most pressing issues of the day set against a backdrop of economic and socio-political concerns that have made a dramatic impact on daily life.”
The Orchid Show opens this Saturday, March 2, here at the NYBG. And while each of our thousands of orchids will be very much bright and lively for the extent of the show, I figured you could use some tragic beauty for this particular Tuesday in February. —MN
For this exhibition of monumental sculptures, Spanish artist Manolo Valdés has been guided by nature: the Garden’s celebrated plant collections, the changing seasons, and the Garden’s landscape with its imposing and dramatic vistas.
As with rare animals or narcotics, the flower trade has—at points throughout history—proven both provocative and more than a little shady. This was definitely a “thing” way before Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief tore back the veil on plant poaching. —MN
Flora, the Goddess of Flowers, is depicted in the painting Flora’s Wagon of Fools by Hendrik Gerritsz Pot (1640). Tulip traders referred to the tulip-trading phenomena as “windhandel” (wind trade), so named for the mania associated with the coveted tulip bulb because the bulbs never actually changed “hands” ~ they merely changed “ownership.”
Flora’s tulips are of the striped variety, the most coveted tulips of the day. The term “Tulip-break” was coined at this time when solid-colored tulips “broke with stripes,” in that the petals had highly unusual flame and feather patterns. (In actuality, the bulbs were infested with a virus transmitted by aphids which caused the striping.)
The painting depicts Flora on the throne of a wind-powered wagon with a tulip-flag mounted on the carriage behind her. The monks riding in the wagon have tulips sprouting from their caps, like the horns of a devil, while the merchants and aristocrats clamor to make themselves a part of the tulip trade, which was nothing short of a medieval “get-rich-quick” scheme. The wind-powered wagon is driven into the sea, with the speculators following blindly to their demise. Defective tulip bulbs containing a virus almost caused the collapse of Holland’s economy in the 1630’s.
“Toxic assets” have come and gone throughout history, because the lust for wealth at any cost prevails in human nature.
Some of the photos captured by Andrew Zuckerman, including a pristine shot of Darwin’s star orchid, were taken right here at The New York Botanical Garden. You can find all of them in his new book, Flower.
You’ll also see our friend the jade vine at the bottom. Its red cousin dominated the spotlight in December, but come March and April you’ll be seeing seafoam blooms in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. —MN