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Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. Giovanni Castell German, b. Michael Wesely German, b. Marc Quinn British, b. Salzburg Foto: Ulrich Ghezzi. Pipilotti Rist Swiss, b.
For some time now, there has been a renaissance of flowers and mushroom themes in fine art. Today flowers are primarily associated with their decorative function. They also have a symbolic meaning both at weddings, where they represent freshness and fertility, and at funerals, where they represent transitoriness and death.
An in-depth exploration of the varied symbolic meanings of flowers in cultural history reveals further levels of meaning, many of which refer to the ambivalence and abysms of human existence. Contemporary art adopts and continues the historical and complex pictorial tradition of flowers and mushrooms by adding new, contemporary perspectives. Different slide projections with a comprehensive series of inkjet prints and Cibachromes included cross-fadings of flower and mushroom motifs.
At the beginning of the exhibition, a historical section shows photographs from the 19th and early 20th century. In particular the new medium of photography developed a special relationship with flower motifs. From the early beginnings of photography, scientific interest motivated pioneers such as William Henry Fox Talbot or Anna Atkins to capture amazing pictures of plants. Later on, the affirmative exaggeration of the decorative character of the flower inspired none other than Andy Warhol to take up a simple, photographically reproduced flower motif in his work Flowers from ; through serial repetitions he ironically exaggerated the motif and conferred iconic status on banal everyday objects.
Artists such as David LaChapelle and Marc Quinn continue the baroque symbol for opulence with the aggressive colourfulness of their impressively grand flower arrangements, but also emphasise the simultaneously existing threatening moment, when the boundlessness can take on a devouring character. At the same time no other motif is so easily suspected of trivialism. The question arises of how a subject that is frequently accused of being trivial and shallow has been able to gain ground in a field of art that is generally regarded as serious and sophisticated.