A big part of the reason that Floom exists is as an attempt to tear flowers away from the trite sentimentality they’re often cloaked in. Prettified and Disney-fied, so many bouquets trade in the raw natural splendour of a stem in exchange for homogenous shades of pink tied to cloying ‘symbolism.’
In this respect, Irving Penn is a hero to us, standing tall in the already crowded field of artists who have taken inspiration from flowers over the years. Originally commissioned to shoot still life flowers for a 1967 issue of U.S Vogue by Alexander Liberman, new images in the series appeared in numerous editions over the years, culminating in the book, Flowers (1980). The images are a revelation, as resonant today as they must have been upon initial publication.
Stark compositions thrust the flowers forwards, flooding the lens with their ripened colours; their structures both delicate and sturdy; their very anatomy. In an interview for Floom earlier this year the custodian of World’s End Farm in New York, Sarah Ryhanen, mused that the reason we love flowers so much is that they remind us of ‘the beautiful, temporal nature of life.’ Viewing Penn’s images afresh, it is impossible not to be reminded of this very quality. See for yourselves in a selection of images below.