Thursday, February 13, 2014

Flower School: A Bouquet Based on a Klimt Masterpiece

Gustav Klimt's 1907-08 painting
'The Kiss' Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY.

By Lindsey Taylor
Jan. 17, 2014, WSJ

After the Holidays, as the gray days of New York's winter settle in, I have two
favorite ways to escape. The first is to surf the Web fantasizing about a vacation with turquoise water; the second is to drag my shivering self to the intimate Neue Galerie museum, located on the Upper East Side in a 1914 landmark building whose rich palette leaves me feeling warm. The collection encompasses Austrian and German art—sculpture, paintings, decorative arts and more—from the 1890s to the 1940s.

I even find it transporting to lunch at the museum's restaurant, Café Sabarsky, modeled after the grand Viennese cafes. While enjoying a bowl of toothsome chestnut soup there earlier this year, I flipped through a book on the work of Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), the Austrian symbolist painter and one of the Neue Galerie's star attractions—and homed in on the inspiration for January's arrangement. I'd always thought Klimt's famous 1907-08 painting, "The Kiss" (which is housed in an Austrian museum), was mainly gold leaf, but closer inspection revealed blues, purples, cadmium red, emerald green, yellow, pink and dashes of black.

The resplendent colors in Gustav Klimt's 1907-08 painting 'The Kiss'
are picked up in the romantic bouquet at right, thanks to yellow
mimosa, ranunculus in red and gold, violet anemones,
yellow tulips and dark purple calla lilies. One-of-a-kind vessel from
 White Forest Pottery, Photo: Stephen
Johnson for WSJ. Flower Styling by Lindsey Taylor.

For the arrangement's vessel, I chose a personal favorite by potter Nancy Bausch of San Francisco's White Forest Pottery. Its swelling, murky form echoed the shape of the painting's entwined lovers and the weight of the black slashes on the man's robe. For the bouquet itself, I started with a base of yellow mimosa; its ferny green foliage and small puffs of yellow flowers nicely conjured the canvas's complex, dotted background. I'd never noticed how the flowers on the woman's dress resemble ranunculus. I picked up some red and rich yellow ones, readily available this time of year, to fill in the arrangement.

Anemones supplied a blue-ish purple note, a stem of yellow oncidium orchid added height, yellow tulips increased the golden glow's intensity and dark purple calla lilies deepened the mix.

To be honest, it's a color combination I wouldn't have tried had I not been guided by Klimt. 

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