Flower Power! Floral Art Is A-Bloom at Art Basel Miami Beach

The works on view reflect the verdant landscape of the waterfront city.

The scene outside of kaufmann repetto's booth at Art Basel Miami Beach 2023, with floral works by Dianna Molzan. Photo: Courtesy of Art Basel.

Florals? For Miami? Groundbreaking.

Across the fairs at Miami Art Week is an abundance of works featuring flowers: big, small, in color, and greyscale. It seemed that every other booth across Basel, NADA, and Untitled Art Fair had a painting or a sculpture featuring a flower—whether it was a large Kusama sculpture of a dotted daisy at Victoria Miro’s booth at Art Basel or the decorative still lifes on offer at other fairs (as one art advisor said, “Lots of living room art!).

These floral works, most seem to agree, appeal to Miami’s already lush landscapes and vibrant sensibilities. But there are more flowers now than in years past, and it might be a sign of a struggling market, though gallerists seem reluctant to speak to that, preferring to highlight their own attraction to the specific bodies of work they’ve brought to Miami.

Claudia Hart, Russian Roulette (A Game of Life): Second Prize V.2 (2023). Courtesy of the artist and Annka Kultys Gallery.

Claudia Hart, Russian Roulette (A Game of Life): Second Prize V.2 (2023). Courtesy of the artist and Annka Kultys Gallery.

“I had a collector come to me and show me all the photos he had of paintings of flowers he had seen,” said Annka Kultys, whose eponymous London-based gallery is showing a series of works by Claudia Hart titled “Russian Roulette,” that feature still lifes of bouquets in which AR works are embedded. Digitally rendered and then transferred onto wood panels, the works have a painterly quality that draws in curious viewers.

“They come to the paintings looking for nature and they see this unnatural, digital work instead,” said Kultys. Flowers as collector bait? Perhaps.

“Miami is all about colors, painting, this is why we chose Hart’s work over our video works, for example.” Kulty further suggested that given the presence of flowers in historical painting themes, they feel familiar and legitimate to hesitant collectors. Hart agreed it was a good move.

“There are joyous flowers and there are flowers that speak to death,” said Hart. “This fair is mostly about happy flowers.”

Over at Basel, naturally, more flora was in bloom.

Lush images of flora and fauna rendered in all types of media were on display at Art Basel. Photo: Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images.

Lush images of flora and fauna rendered in all types of media were on display at Art Basel. Photo: Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images.

The Milan- and New York-based gallery kaufmann repetto was showing large floral, vegetal works by Andrea Bowers and Dianna Molzan.

While Francesca Kaufmann wouldn’t speak to the general trend, she credited her own gallery’s focus on the floral to a feminist preoccupation with the Earth and its splendors.

“Women are the ones that care about the environment much more than men so it’s no coincidence that we bring 99 percent women to the booth and there are a lot of natural themes showing here,” said Kaufmann. “It’s eco-feminism, women just care more.”

While a more formal analysis would have to be done it does seem that the majority of artists bringing floral works are women.

But at the end of the day what it seems to comes down to is that florals are a safe bet for skittish collectors. In a somewhat depressed market, gallerists can count on a non-threatening bouquet to seal the deal.

Atmosphere during Art Basel Miami Beach Art Fair 2023 VIP Preview. Photo by Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images.

Atmosphere during Art Basel Miami Beach Art Fair 2023 VIP Preview. Photo by Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images.

Francisco Correa Cordero, owner of Lubov, was stunned by the amount of flower works he saw around the fairs this week, with a photo album full of works he had seen featuring orchids, tulips, roses, and the rest.

“Flowers are a quintessential symbol of tranquility, love, care, support, growth,” said Correa Cordero. “Plus, regardless of the current political or economic climate, they’re a safe and easy sell considering it’s been a difficult year for a lot of galleries. Remember Karma’s first show after the lockdown, ‘(Nothing but) Flowers’?”

Hopefully these vegetal beauties do their part to prop up a lackluster market.

 

 

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