Monday, June 2, 2014

Flower School: A De Kooning-Inspired Flower Arrangement

The Inspiration:  Willem de Kooning's painting
'La Guardia in a Paper Hat, 1972' © 2014.
The Willem de Kooning Foundation/
Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
The Arrangement:  Savage smears of color in
Willem de Kooning's painting 'La Guardia in a Paper Hat,
 1972' are represented by relatively well-behaved
tulips, ranunculuses and peonies.
Ceramic Vessel, $1,500,
Stephen Kent Johnson for WSJ, Styling: Lindsey Taylor.

By Lindsey Taylor
WSJ, May 30, 2014

Sometimes its the vessel that inspires an arrangement. When I first saw the work of New York ceramic artist Donna Green, I was taken by its boldness, scale, gestural quality and in-your-face confidence. Her pieces, covered in vigorous brushstrokes of color, fluctuate between the figurative and the abstract. There's nothing precious about her forms, made by compressing layers of clay coils, then scraping, pushing and prodding them. "The play between the ugly and beautiful is what intrigues me," said Ms. Green, who counts Italian painter and sculptor Lucio Fontana among her inspirations.

Ms. Green agreed when I mentioned that some of her pieces evoked the canvases of Abstract Expressionist painter Willem de Kooning (1904-1997), the subject of an ambitious new biography, "A Way of Living," by Judith Zilczer (Phaidon). So, for this month's arrangement, I decided to bring the two artists together, using de Kooning's "La Guardia in a Paper Hat, 1972" as a starting point and one of Ms. Green's ceramic pieces (18 inches high) as my vessel.

With the vase standing in for the lower part of the painting, I selected salmon-colored French long-stem tulips, single yellow tulips, densely petaled yellow-and-green ranunculuses, candy pink peonies and branches of the early chartreuse viburnum blooms. My goal was simply to bring to life de Kooning's—and Ms. Green's—sense of energy and freedom.

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