Week 28 - 2015

A rose is a rose is a rose

© Edward Steichen, Heavy Roses, Voulangis, 1914. Preus museum's collection.

A rose is a rose is a rose

Inhale the scent of the heavy, joyous roses—isn't it almost exactly this way we know the sweet perfume of sun-warmed  petals?

Famed photographer and artist Edward Steichen (1879-1973) had a special passion for flowers, and he took this picture of heavy roses in 1914. A year earlier Gertrude Stein had written "Sacred Emily" where the line "Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose" appears. Just as the photograph portrays something else, the word "rose" indicates something other than itself—and the very word evokes thoughts and feelings, memories and scents. As photographs sometimes do.

 

When Edward Steichen photographed the roses, symbols of beauty and love, he was still a painter as well as a photographer. Seven years later he would burn all his paintings and commit himself exclusively to photography. In his early photographs the inspiration from painting is clear. His prestige as a painter allowed him to play a decisive role in the acceptance of photography as art, not merely as a mirror of what was on the other side of the lens.       

 

Several of Steichen's photographs from his varied roles as artist, commercial photographer, and lover of flowers were exhibited on the Preus Museum Wall of Fame in July 2015.

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