Friday, March 25, 2016

An Easter Flower Arrangement Inspired by Frank Stella

A simple stand of tulips invokes the lines and palette of Frank Stella’s 1970
canvas ‘Flin Flon VI.’ David Stark and Victoria Shaheen Pierced Floral Rests
 for Culture Lab Detroit, from $85, FleurDetroit. Photo: Stephen Kent Johnson for WSJ,
Floral styling by Lindsey Taylor, Prop Syling by Nidia Cueva.       
By Lindsey Taylor          
THE CHALLENGE of florally interpreting an artwork every month for this column has pushed me to tackle paintings with moods and palettes you don’t see in those from the obvious Dutch masters and impressionists. I rather love that.
Frank Stella’s 1970 canvas ‘Flin Flon VI’ 
©2010 Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society, New York,
Birmingham Museum of Art.
Still, as I walked the aisles of a Manhattan wholesale flower shop early one recent morning, completely flummoxed, I questioned the wisdom of choosing Frank Stella’s abstract canvas “Flin Flon VI” (1970) as my latest jumping-off point. I’d thought the timing was apt: A Stella retrospective just ended at New York’s Whitney Museum and the painting’s colors prettily anticipated spring.

As I sipped coffee to jolt me out of a creative impasse, I realized the answer was staring right at me: that most classic of spring flowers, the vivid, graphic, kinetic tulip.

The saturated colors of these single, double and parrot varieties echo Mr. Stella’s palette, and the closed buds and foliage form points and arcs delightfully similar to those in the painting. It felt freeing and decisive to gather just one type of flower.

For my vessel, I chose a new design by event designer David Stark and ceramist Victoria Asheley Shaheen—a pierced ceramic lid set atop a simple glass vase. It allowed the sweep of the fresh green stems to show nearly uninterrupted, all the better to evoke my inspiration.

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