Paul Lange: Big Blooms and Fowl Portraits, Chicago Botanic Garden, until June 28th

Art Scene

Paul Lange: Big Blooms and Fowl Portraits, Chicago Botanic Garden, until June 28th

Centuries of art and literature have depicted flowers personified as women (or arguably, women objectified as flowers). But regardless of the possible misgivings in its reception, there is something undeniably feminine about the flower. In the 20th century, Georgia O’Keeffe famously evoked female anatomy and sexuality with her large scale flower paintings. Now we have a chance to see the flower portrait in a new way, through the eyes of renowned photographer Paul Lange.

Paul Lange Pink Flower

With an impressive celebrity portfolio, highlighting his talent for conjuring the human spirit in just a single frame, Lange has since moved his work to upstate New York where his friend, esteemed florist Zezé, resides on a sprawling farm and garden estate. He now channels these conjuring abilities into rather unexpected subjects; his recent project Fifty Acres, seeks to capture different elements of the Hudson Valley estate in extra large proportion.

Big Blooms is a series of close-up portraits of the flowers grown on Zezé’s estate. Each flower, unique in its species, is photographed to reflect each of their distinctive qualities and make them somehow- personable. Lange even gives women’s names to each of the flowers, adding to their humanlike quality.

Paul Lange Pink/Purple Flower

He says of his portraits, “Working with concepts of size, scale and gesture, I coax each of my botanical subjects to display some whimsically anthropomorphic characteristic that evokes a feminine persona… [They] are made to be printed large-scale, and they are named for exceptional women from history, literature, the arts, dance, fashion…and even to honor a few that I have been fortunate to know.”

Lange also created a collection entitled Fowl Portraits, charming portraits of the various birds living on the estate. Using a black backdrop and live (or rather, more alive) subjects, Lange summons another uncommonly human connection from his subjects. “After years of working to establish a connection with these wild creatures,” says Lange, “…as I venture into their world, these individual birds bravely and curiously venture into mine, and my photographs are a poignant tribute to our species blending interactions.”

Paul Lange Duck

Big Blooms and Fowl Portraits are now on display in his solo exhibition at the Chicago Botanic Garden through June 28 2015.