"Almost Baroque" Exhibition

Triple Candie

poster for "Almost Baroque" Exhibition

This event has ended.

This exhibition presents contemporary flower "paintings"—based on Baroque and Rococo still lifes—that we purchased at a nearby El Mundo department store. They aren't real paintings, they are prints created from paintings made in an art-factory in southern China.

We bought them because, as art historians, we were intrigued by the fact that El Mundo sells them as unauthored, untitled, and undated works. Clearly, they must be copies of historic paintings, we thought. We interviewed Dutch still life experts in Europe and consulted museum collection catalogues. What we've determined is that while they are based on preexisting paintings, they aren't straightforward copies. Some are loose approximations—improved for mass-market salability; others are pastiches, combining details from an assortment of works. Though they are mass-produced, these are original, if wholly anonymous, images.

Floral still lifes were symbols of great wealth and taste in seventeenth-century Holland and Flanders (now Belgium). Cut flowers—particularly tulips—were expensive and flower paintings provided people an economical substitute that bloomed all year round. Despite the fact that many Dutch still lifes look like they were painted from observation, they are in fact fictional recreations, pastiches, combining flowers that bloom at different times into a single image.

The downtown art would would not consider the "paintings" you see here to be art. They are mass-produced, they are anonymous and unsigned, and they have no economic value and likely never will. To us, these are positive values. While on the surface these "paintings" look conservative and old fashioned, they present—intentionally or not—a radical proposition for what art can be.



from February 15, 2009 to April 05, 2009


El Mundo

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