The language of flowers The exhibition at the Gucci Museum


By Ela Vasilescu – writer

Valérie Belin, Calendula (Marigold), 2010 e Phlox New Hybrid (with Dahlia Redskin), 2010
Valérie Belin, Calendula (Marigold), 2010 e Phlox New Hybrid (with Dahlia Redskin), 2010

“The language of flowers” exhibit, held at the Gucci Museum from March 13 until September 20 is a reference to one of the iconic motifs of Maison Gucci: Flora. The curator of this exhibit is Martin Bethenod, director of the Palazzo Grassi-Punta della Dogana in Venice, who granted special attention when selecting the works of artists with distinct styles, in order to show how flowers relate to both beauty and memory. The exhibit reunites art works realized between 1967 and 2012 by four different artists, works that play with the iconography of flowers. The four artists involved are South African born painter Marlene Dumas, American photographer  Irving Penn, Moroccan artist Latifa Echakhch and French photographer Valérie Belin, with pieces including Belin’s Phlox New Hybrid (with Dahlia Redskin), Dumas’ Einder, and Penn’s Single Oriental Poppy. 

Valérie Belin. Astrantia Major (Ruby Wedding), 2013 ©Valérie Belin Courtesy
Valérie Belin. Astrantia Major (Ruby Wedding), 2013 ©Valérie Belin Courtesy

The blur lines between photographic images of human portraiture and the natural world as floral motifs are overlaid in the female portraits realized by photographer Valérie Belin fit perfectly together with Irving Penn’s Cottage Tulip. Echakhch’s installation of jasmine necklaces seems to want to invoke the memory of a traveling flower salesman in Beirut, while Dumas tries to re-create in her vibrantly colored painting, the flower arrangement that adorned her mother’s coffin. Every exposed piece represents a search for perfection, and raises awareness about the vanity of everything surrounding us. Far from being just objects of beauty, more complex themes emerge from that of flowers, including memory, politics and the value of art.  Characterized by a powerful visual seduction, the exhibit is steeped in delicate and profound ambiguity declaring through the exposed art works that humanity and nature fit together naturally and perfectly. The museum is opened Monday to Sunday from 10 am to 8 pm; Thursday from 10 am to 11 pm. The admission fee is 7 euros.

Gucci Museo Piazza della Signoria, 10 50122, Firenze Phone 055 7592 3302



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