Allure of Flowers: Botanical Motifs in Craft, Design, & Fashion

March 1 - August 14, 2014

Mint Museum Uptown


Floral patterns have appeared in decorative arts since ancient times.

Inspired by the forms, colors, and textures of the botanical world, artists from across the globe have copied and interpreted individual flowers, bouquets, and gardens in glass, ceramic, textile, and jewelry design. Allure of Flowers presents a survey of outstanding works from the mid-nineteenth century to today that collectively illustrate the evolution of floral ornament in modern and contemporary applied art.

Drawn entirely from the permanent collection of The Mint Museum, the exhibition is organized by flower type, transforming the galleries into a virtual garden and allowing visitors to see how decorative treatments of the same flowers have evolved over time. During the first half of the nineteenth-century, such textiles as bed covers and shawls displayed vibrant inventive patterns, adding color and enlivening the domestic interior. Decorative ceramics and glassware emerged from a period of conservative production to a new era of original design and technique. Aestheticism and the Arts and Crafts Movement brought a renewed interest in Japanese, Medieval, and Renaissance art, and the handmade. In the Art Nouveau period (1890-1910) the floral motif blossomed, the sinuous lines of flowers becoming the dominant theme in decorative arts.

Revival styles or historicism is a recurrent theme into the modern and contemporary periods. Many of the works in this section of the exhibition display references to earlier decorative patterns.  The 1960s and 70s, a time when graphic arts, textiles, and fashion were influenced by Art Nouveau and psychedelic imagery, are well represented in the exhibition with fashion fabrics.  Hippie culture and the new Age of Aquarius led artists and designers to look once again to India and the East. Still later, artists approached historical ornament, including flowers, with postmodern irony, as seen in several works of jewelry and ceramics in the exhibition. Ultimately, artists’ ongoing interest in reinterpreting flowers in new styles appropriate to their era illustrates the enduring power of this motif.

This exhibition is organized by The Mint Museum. Generously funded through the 2013 Banking on Our Community event, with additional support from The Founders’ Circle, Ltd.

Online Resources

For more information on this exhibition, please visit the Mintwiki. Created by The Mint Museum Library, Mintwiki provides online information on the special exhibitions and permanent collections of The Mint Museum.

Image Captions

View all image captions