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Bouquets of Art: A Flower Dictionary

 

Published by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, this volume by Lauren Palmor, Assistant Curator of American Art draws upon the rich history of the language of flowers in order to offer a new perspective through which to explore the permanent collection of the de Young and Legion of Honor. Featuring a sampling of floral imagery selected from across cultures, periods, and media, this guide builds on the methods of floriography as a means for navigating how the collection’s expansive array of objects intersects with the rich histories of floral symbolism and communication. Drawn from across the Fine Arts Museums’ holdings of American art, works on paper, costume and textile arts, European painting, and European decorative arts and sculpture, this selection of fifty floral objects presents the collection through a new lens, with accompanying texts that explore a rich variety of source material, including poetry, etymology, folklore, botany, popular music, biblical verse, mythology, histories of exploration and colonization, and systems of belief. A branch of azaleas recalls lines of poetry from the oldest extant collection of Japanese verse; the deep purple irises of a stained-glass window suggest the myth of Iris, the Greek goddess who carried messages of love from heaven to Earth; and a lemon blossom atop a piece of French soft-paste porcelain evokes the lyrics of a 1960s pop song. These connections reinforce an essential aspect of art appreciation: if approached with a keen eye, an open heart, and a curious mind, any artwork can be placed at the center of its own constellation of associations. 134 pages, Hardcover.

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