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GARDEN PARTY Opens at Nassau County Museum of Art

GARDEN PARTY Opens at Nassau County Museum of Art
Maurice Prendergast, The Promenade, n.d., Oil on canvas,
28 X 40 1/4 inches, Columbus Museum of Art,
Gift of Ferdinand Howald.

The first garden was Eden -a setting of flowers and plants for the creation of our world and mankind. Ever since, we have cultivated gardens simply for their beauty or for the sustenance they provide as food. Flowers have served as inspiration for painters and poets from time immemorial. From the mundane to the exquisite, flowers enhance every facet of our lives. Their physical expression may be found in gardens and outdoor parties of every kind, from the humblest to the most elegant 18th-century fête champêtre.

Nassau County Museum of Art presents Garden Party from March 8, 2014 to July 6, 2014. The exhibition is organized by guest curators Franklin Hill Perrell, the museum's former senior curator, and JoAnne Olian, curator emeritus at the Museum of the City of New York. Garden Party explores the imagery of fête champêtre-outdoor entertainments and garden parties-through paintings, sculpture, costume, fabrics and decorative arts and designs.

In Garden Party, the curators have assembled a bouquet of paintings illustrating the appeal of flowers in every season. The project also takes advantage of the museum's incomparable 145-acre property, richly embellished with beautiful gardens and sculpture. This exhibition of gardens and flowers in an array of styles is organized thematically by season, beginning with a stunning portrayal of spring through a monumental mural by Robert Kushner. Works by artists from many different traditions are on view, including Nell Blaine, Charles Burchfield, Marc Chagall, George Deem, Janet Fish, Jane Freilicher, Martin Johnson Heade, David Hockney, Robert Mapplethorpe, Georgia O'Keeffe, Maurice Prendergast, Larry Rivers, James Rosenquist and Louis Comfort Tiffany.

The works in the exhibition portray floral images as objects of enjoyment and pure visual pleasure, the recreation of a natural paradise envisioned since antiquity and perpetually recreated in gardens, the nuances of horticulture, floral arrangements and flower motifs in fashion and decorative art. The prevalence of floral imagery in costume design is demonstrated with dresses designed by de la Renta, Mainbocher, and Traina-Norell, as well as in the motifs of exquisite Judith Leiber evening bags.


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