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Daniel Balabán, Plants, 1996, watercolor on canvas, 63 x 47 1/4". From “. . . and don’t forget the flowers.”

“. . . and don’t forget the flowers”

Moravská Galerie v Brně

Daniel Balabán, Plants, 1996, watercolor on canvas, 63 x 47 1/4". From “. . . and don’t forget the flowers.”

Flowers are among the kitschiest subjects—along with kids and pets. It would seem impossible to address them in modern and contemporary art except in a repressed or ironic mode: Think of Mondrian paying the devil for his Neo-Plasticist heaven with secretly executed floral still lifes, or Warhol rolling hibiscus blossoms off his assembly line in 1964 as the provocatively anodyne sequel to car crashes and electric chairs. Yet the roster of contemporary artists who have contemplated flowers is remarkable: Ellsworth Kelly, Charles Ray, Jay DeFeo, Christopher Williams, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Cy Twombly—the list is long, even without obvious polemical entries such as Robert Mapplethorpe’s calla lilies, or the mountain blossom wielded against defenseless car windows in Pipilotti Rist’s video installation Ever Is Over All, 1997. A recent, smartly presented exhibition in

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