Flower Moon & the Art of the Flower Portrait

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May 10, 2017

It is May 10th and today is the night of the Flower Moon. The Comanche tribe called the full moon in May the “flower moon.” But this month’s full moon has other lyrical names like “strawberry moon” and “milk moon.” It also has some more practical names like “moon when the ponies shed.” But I digress. The Flower moon makes me think of that magical hour just past sunset when white flowers seem to glow a little in the deep blue that settles around us as night falls. It’s that time when the sweet smell of jasmine goes perfectly with the cool evening air. That’s the time when, if you look closely, you can actually see the magic in a flower’s face.

Art history is filled with a great variety of flower portraits. I’m always amazed at how powerfully expressive these seemingly gentle entities can become when translated by an artist. Georgia O’Keefe is most famous for her flower portraits specifically because they were so expressive, so powerful, so provocative and somehow still incredibly delicate. What is remarkable though is how her flower portrait work, and that of other even more prominent figures in art history like Van Gogh and Monet, are the most recognizable, and also have fetched some of the highest recorded prices for art at auction.

To honor tonight’s flower moon, I’ve included some famous flower portraits here for their variety, and their power. Tonight, just after the last of the sun slips behind the horizon, go outside and see if you can find some magic in the blossoms in your neighborhood.

Portraits of Flowers

Flowers (For UCLA) by Pablo Picasso


Irises by Vincent Van Gogh


Single Calla Lily (Red) by Georgia O’Keefe


Nympheas by Claude Monet


Jimson Weed by Georgia O’Keefe