Apr 15, 2017

Floral Juxtaposition

Manon Gray

Over spring break I visited the de Young Art Museum in San Francisco. It happened to be during their annual Bouquets to Art. The museum invites florists from around the Bay Area to create flower arrangements that pair with art in the de Young's collection. I've been several times, and there's always been a large crowd. Picture taking of the flowers is so popular that the museum advertises photo-free hours in the morning. Bouquets to Art is a fundraiser, and, according to the museum's website, has "raised more than $6 million for the Museums' special exhibitions, conservation projects, and education programs."

I always find the level of excitement around the flowers intriguing.  It's tempting to conclude that people like flowers more than they like paintings, but I don't think that is it.  I think that the flowers make the art less intimidating. Often art can feel inaccessible without some understanding of its art history context. Since the bouquets are usually paired with a single work, they are interpretations. A visitor can easily compare the arrangement with the work. The arrangements are usually not figurative, so the comparison invites consideration of the piece's formal characteristics such as color and shape. The comparison provides structure for contemplation.

None of the works featured in Bouquets to Art were moving images, and I don't think flower arrangements would pair as well with them compared to static works. However, I wonder if a different juxtaposition could provide similar effects for the interpretation and appreciation of moving images.

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