There’s quite a few botanical-themed public art installations worth visiting in New York City right now. I saw “Ideas of Stone” in Madison Square Park last weekend, and the huge trees with boulders in them are really cool. And I will definitely be making a trip over to the UN to see Ana Tzarev’s beautiful, shiny poppy. What is your favorite piece of public art in New York City, past or present? ~AR
I visited the Harvard Museum of Natural History today, and one of their current exhibits is Glass Flowers, a truly astounding collection of glass plant models created by Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka from 1886 to 1936. They created nearly 4,400 models by hand out of glass with wire reinforcement. I could barely wrap my head around the time and skill that went into the collection. The models range across plant families and feature both actual size models as well as larger anatomical pieces.
If you live in the Boston area, definitely check out the museum and this exhibit.
These glass flowers are worth a visit from anywhere. Utterly mind blowing. ~AR
This is a portion of my final for my traditional photo II class. I wanted to depict the geometric pattern in organic forms from the plant life found here in central Texas.
It’s been awhile since we’ve reblogged a really interesting interpretation of traditional botanical art. I think this fits that bill nicely with its nod to the Karl Blossfeldt and the current infatuation with geometric elements in graphic design. ~AR
Another interesting take on the modern botanical. I am especially taken with the eggplant designs! ~AR
Final Major Project is here, I have chosen to look at vegetables, vegetable gardens and insects. I chose this theme because growing up I eati home grown vegetables and fruit throughout the year and it is a lifestyle trend that seems to be blooming. The fresh colours, interesting textures and the historical context of these plants provides rich material for me to work with. The designs I create will be for interiors, predominantly for the kitchen.
Do you love old botanical prints? The digital collections of NYBG’s Mertz Library has thousands that you can browse online. The grandaddy resource for prints of this sort is the BHL or Biodiversity Heritage Library and their excellent Flickr sets. The BHL is an official digital partner of ours and you will find tons of images from our collections amongst theirs. These prints are perfect for the short days of winter when all you can do is daydream about next spring’s beautiful blooms. ~AR
Hand-colored prints from the Minneapolis Institute of Art, 18th-20th century.
Exotic butterflies meet beautiful zinnias and dahlias. Color me smitten! ~AR
Common Morpho (word / l8r) and Aphrodite Fritillary by Amy Jean Porter
What strange magic allowed us to conjure butterflies in December? Let us reassure you, collectors, that there’s nothing supernatural about Common Morpho (word / l8r) and Aphrodite Fritillary, our new editions by Amy Jean Porter, enchanted as they are. Summer’s delights can look like sorcery to off-season eyes. Read more.
Ipomea is such an interesting genus; it contains delicious edible plants like sweet potatoes (pictured above) and water spinach (Ipomea aquatica), useful plants like the moonflower (Ipomea alba) that was used historically to vulcanize the sap from the Panamanian rubber tree into rubber, and the decorative and beautiful morning glory (Ipomea purpurea) which helped jump start the modern seed saving movement. With such a varied and diverse groups, is it even possible to have a favorite Ipomea? ~AR
Sweet potato, you gorgeous thing!
1719 illustration by Maria Sibylla Merian: Parrot flower (Heliconia psittacorum) and leaves of sweet potato plant (Ipomoea batatus) with member of the mesquite bug (Pachylis pharanois) and larvae of an unidentified species of Eucleidae. The Getty Research Institute
There are so many talented photographers out there pushing the envelope of traditional botanical photography and art. Welcome to today’s discovery: John Fobes. Fobes uses a camera-less photographic technique called lumen printing to capture these beautiful tonal images. It seems that lumen printing is very similar to the sunprints I used to make when I was a kid, except it uses normal black and white photographic paper, and according to some users, the older the paper, the better. John says that he has utilizes “materials from photography’s three centuries of use.” His art is impressive and beautiful and evocative. Bravo John! ~AR
Fine art meets botanical art in these gorgeous still-life paintings up for sale at Christies. Interested in flexing your own artistic muscles? The Garden offers a variety of classes in Botanical Art, Garden Photography, and more. Check out the full offerings here.
Three still-life paintings by Adriaen Coorte (Middelburg 1660-after 1707)
Who wants to join me for a road (er train) trip to see Ellsworth Kelly Plant Drawings at The Metropolitan Museum of Art? Kelly’s drawings are spare and spartan, and yet full of warmth and dimension. There is something about them that alludes to the story behind them, an idea I had before I read this glowing review of the small exhibition in the New York Times (plants, it seems, are having a major moment in New York City this summer).
As someone who loves taking pictures of my plants as a way to remember not just what I thought was beautiful, but in order to remember what I wasfeelingat that time, I kind of figured there was more to Kelly’s art than mere botanical art. So, who’s up for a quick gallery visit?~AR
We love getting submissions from visitors. Art in particular. It’s just so gratifying to see the landscapes around the NYBG inspiring talented people to create. The paintings above are the perfect example. And they just go to show that even after it’s gone, the Orchid Show keeps giving.
"Pauline is a retired public servant and passionate gardener," the artist’s husband writes. "Born in the west country of England but now living on the south coast, her interest in art started at an early age and she continues to paint many subject matters. She runs an active on-line gardening group and her small garden opens to the public twice a year."
Pauline found the time to visit the NYBG during a globetrotting tour in March. Even a miserably cold, windy and rain-soaked jaunt around the Garden couldn’t hamper the experience (though she is British—not exactly a novice when it comes to inclement weather, I imagine).
"The paintings are acrylic on canvas," Pauline writes. "I tend to paint flowers or foliage as big as possible, often removing things I perceive to be inconsequential to that particular plant."
Botanical art tends to find a home here at the NYBG, and while we treasure all the submissions we run into, it’s heart-warming to know that folks from across the pond gain inspiration from our little scene in the Bronx. —MN
We got this excellent submission from the Parks Department, so we’re publishing it in honor of the return of the Garden’s Greenmarket on June 13. ~AR
The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation is pleased to host A Window on Nature: Art of Asuka Hishiki, an exhibition of over 35 watercolors illustrating a poetic and detailed observation of plants and insects. Her portraits of vegetables from New York City’s celebrated Greenmarkets and her imaginative plant-like insects from her Association of Type B metamorphosis Entomologists (ATBE) series are on view April 26 through June 6, 2012.
Influenced by a childhood reference book of insects, plants and animals, as well as her fascination with the work of 18th century naturalist and scientific illustrator Maria Sibylla Merian, Hishiki’s paintings are painstakingly detailed and exacting—individual hairs are visible on her renderings of life-sized ants. Offering a visually nourishing treat, Hishiki faithfully captures crisp, ripe colors of locally grown vegetables, as well as the sensuous formations of heirloom tomatoes, which resemble Edward Weston’s peppers. In her fanciful ABTE series, plants grow butterflies instead of flowers and brilliantly patterned caterpillars sprout mushrooms on their backs. Though a stickler for details, she also forms personal relationships with her subjects, naming each of her tomatoes based on their shape (Mr. Big Nose and Yakuza Brothers) and creating intricate histories for her whimsical insects.
Photography and video have since become the norm in nature documentation—recording species faster and more accurately than painters. However, Hishiki wonders if they record her subjects as she sees them. Cameras have one fixed, instantaneous vision, yet she notes that people need time to see an object. Painters have multiple viewpoints and time to study and reflect on their subjects, selectively capturing details. Hishiki displays her paintings on stark white paper that suggest the form of collection boxes with the hope that others will see as much beauty and invest the time in her specimens as she does.
The Arsenal Gallery is dedicated to examining themes of nature, urban space, wildlife, New York City parks, and park history. It is located on the third floor of the NYC Parks & Recreation headquarters, in Central Park, on Fifth Avenue at 64th Street. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for holidays. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/parks/art or call 212-360-8163.
Correlating mycological illustrations with their real-life counterparts is a study in the uncanny. Or perhaps the real McCoy sometimes looks a little too much like a colorful drawing. —MN
Russula lepida. Mushroom habitat: with deciduous trees, especially beech. Season: summer to early autumn. Not edible.