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Sound and Vision: Flowers

Sound and Vision is a new blog series matching songs from around the world with our encyclopedic collection. Think of it as our recommended playlist as you stroll the galleries.

And what better way to kick off the Sound and Vision series than with a selection of artworks depicting flowers in bloom paired with songs of the season. Cultures around the world have long associated spring's first bloom with fertility and rebirth and few themes have as long and as rich a history in art.

Gallery 243

Claude Monet spent much of his late career working in his own flower garden, which featured a water garden and a small pond spanned by a Japanese footbridge. Water Lilies comes from the third group of paintings in the artist's water-lily series. "One instant, one aspect of nature contains it all," Monet once said of his water landscapes, feeling they were one of his greatest achievements.

Listen to "Flowers in the Pond" by Ros Sereysothea, one of Cambodia's most famous singers of the 1960s and 1970s:

Gallery 107

This woodblock print by 18th-century Japanese artist Isoda Koryusai is one of ten works now on view featuring scenes from the Fashionable Seven Komachi. The series is based on the life of Ono no Komachi, a ninth-century poet renowned for her exceptional beauty and poetic ability.

Among the famous poets of the Heian period (794–1185), women stand out as reaching the greatest heights of accomplishment. These talented court women captured the imagination of those living hundreds of years later and incited the creation of many popular legends, though few facts are actually known about the poets’ lives.

Listen to "Les Fleur" by American soul singer-songwriter Minnie Riperton. Released in 1970, Riperton sings from the perspective of a flower, asking "Will somebody wear me to the fair?/Will a lady pin me in her hair?"

Gallery 292B

Andy Warhol's Flowers is now on view in The New Contemporary, an exhibition of recent gifts from Chicago collectors Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson. Warhol began his Flowers series in 1964, working on square canvases so the paintings could be installed in a variety of orientations. He gave the flowers their unnatural appearance using fluorescent Day-Glo paint and silkscreen ink. He also added another artificial layer to the series by borrowing the image of hibiscus flowers from a photo spread in the June 1964 issue of Modern Photography. Warhol’s unauthorized use of the photo prompted a lawsuit in 1966, leading him to base his future works on photographs he took himself.

Listen to a song from Japanese singer Asami Kado's 1987 album Anti-Fleur, ""Giraffe and I."


Claude Monet. Water Lilies, 1906. Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection.

Isoda Koryusai. Ono no Komachi Visiting Kiyomizu Temple, from the series "The Fashionable Seven Komachi (Furyu nana Komachi)", c. 1770/72. Clarence Buckingham Collection.

Andy Warhol. Flowers, 1964. Gift of Edlis|Neeson Collection. © 2016 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.