As we revel in the bounty of flowers all over Denver (thank you, rain!), the Denver Art Museum has assembled a beautiful arrangement of flowers throughout the museum campus. “In Bloom: Painting Flowers in the Age of Impressionism” runs July 19 through October 11, closing just as frost begins to nip at fading flowers. How apropos!
“In Bloom: Painting Flowers in the Age of Impressionism” is the name of the primary exhibition on the second floor of the Hamilton building. I always take note of how the staff chooses to design the exhibit’s bones – the wall placement, paint colors, angles and seating. It’s always done with great thought to engage the museum-goer and to best-show off the art. “In Bloom” is no exception with pale and pretty wall colors, window cut-outs in the walls that Angelica Daneo, associate curator of Painting and Sculpture at the museum, explained serves to not only let in more light between rooms but to also allow the viewer to juxtapose different styles and time periods of floral still lifes, to compare and contrast.
The exhibit explores the development of 19th-century French, floral still-life painting. There are approximately 60 paintings by French artists including Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Paul Cezanne and Vincent Van Gogh. The paintings in the first room are a beautiful deception since the flowers in the arrangements didn’t all bloom at the same time so they couldn’t have been used in the same arrangement. That meant using imagination or recollection on the part of the artist. In another room, flowers are more fanciful and are used to feature human form or representative symbols. In the third room, Impressionism really started to take hold and you see the loose brush strokes and emphasis more on color than on accurate form.
“The Impressionist Garden: Scent Experience” is a new thing for the Denver Art Museum. The room (which you can bypass if you are sensitive to smells), shows a wall mural of Monet in his gardens at Giverney likely strolling to pick flowers for an arrangement to paint. Vapors of a beautiful, floral perfume come wafting out of the wall mural at various points to give the museum-goer a sense of what Monet’s garden must have smelled like. The scent was created by Boulder master perfumer Dawn Spencer-Hurwitz. Her perfumes and a room spray will be available in the gift shop.
The “In Bloom” exhibit isn’t only for still-life-lovers. It’s for people who like pretty things. And that’s just about everyone, isn’t it? To further demonstrate that and to show how flowers are included in so many things we experience, the exhibit flows throughout the museum campus. Next door to the main exhibit is “4 Seasons of Veronica Read,” a series of film clips (long ones) on four, suspended screens. Follow flower adhesives on the floor and walls around the campus to see other floral gems. They might be in paintings, on sculptures, in furniture and more – what a great way to encourage people to meander throughout the two buildings and outside! Be sure to stop on Level 6 of the North Building for “Check Out These Stems!” This is the furniture exhibit area that is part of the permanent collection at DAM. But much like the stems of flowers that get very little attention, the legs of chairs and other furniture are often overlooked. This exhibit invites you to focus on that which supports the fancier parts!
Create art yourself in the Flower Studio in the Hamilton Building where you can paint, sculpt, play and see
demonstrations by artists who use flowers in unique ways. There are also opportunities to see floral art outside with sculptures using everyday items, crafts areas and even a chef’s demo area using flowers in cooking.
The exhibit is free for members. For nonmembers, tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children 6-18. Kids five and under are free. Tickets can be purchased online at www.denverartmuseum.org. Visit the website for details about special activities planned throughout the run of the exhibit.