March 11, 2013

Beyond Chihuly - Botanic Gardens try some Big Boy Art

Philip Haas' 'The Four Seasons' 'Autumn' ( rear) and Winter' expands the repertoire of contemporary artwork seen at botanical gardens.

You never know what you are going to find at a botanic garden. How about important contemporary art? These huge, curious and wonderfully complex sculptures which seemed not out of place, but delightfully odd and beautiful, (if not slightly frightening in size and subject matter).
Could these be the same pieces that I saw in Artforum magazine and at the American Pavilion the Venice Biennale? The amazing work of American artist and filmmaker Philip Haas ( Sonnabend Gallery NY) is hard to confuse with anything, well, at least these pieces are. Not bad for an artist who is more known as a Oscar nominated film maker ( Angels & Insects, 1995). Talk about cross-over, this makes me feel a little better about my retired contemporary art moment that ended in 1997. I guess it's never too late to start again.

Maybe it's time to give 'ol  Chihuly a rest, as these four pieces tour various botanic gardens this coming year. Entitled 'The Four Seasons', these four monumental sculptures are inspired by Giuseppe Arcimboldo's Renaissance paintings of the same title comprising spring, summer, autumn and winter ( as well as his other work).  Here, scale and site elevates experience - Kudos to whomever had the innovative idea to suggest touring these works at botanic gardens, rather than at museums. I can appreciate how the four white walls of a gallery space or a glass contemporary courtyard at a museum can isolate and frame such organic yet fantastic works such as this, but I also can't help but be captivated by the obvious juxtaposition nature invites into the dialog. The experience walks a thin line between that of Koonsian carny and Alice in Wonderland.

On display at the Desert Botanic Garden in Phoenix until April 28, 2013.

Click on this link to see what the work will look like when on display at the New York Botanical Garden this summer (May 18 until October 27, 2012) outside the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.

'The Four Seasons', Autumn and Spring


  1. Anonymous7:46 PM

    You should come down and see the art at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden! Wonderful stone sculptures by members of the Shona tribe in Zimbabwe....

  2. Wow, Thanks. I may be near the Fairchild soon ( I love orchids!). I'll have to check it out.

  3. Anonymous7:14 AM

    Please say hello if you do visit Fairchild. I am on the staff (horticulture). The stone sculptures will be here through May 31, 2013. My name is Mary Collins (Senior Horticulturist)

  4. Wow! Stunning and inspirational! I glad I found this.

  5. It is so cool.. And definitely amazing. I'm still in awe seeing this wonderful creation.

  6. Great post Matt! I totally agree - these works of art belong in a garden, not a museum! I can't imagine them inside surrounded by white walls, it would be sad.



Oh yes, do leave me a comment!