Michael Petry’s Nature Morte (still life) series of sculptures that feature freshly cut flowers in especially blown glass vessels were made for his show The Revenge of the Florist at the Westbrook Gallery in 2009. Historical paintings of still lifes attempted to bring time into them by depicting decay (rotting fruits, meat) and the mortality of the viewer (skulls). Petry’s works allow the viewer to see decay in real time. The cut flowers slowly lose their bloom, their beauty fading. The glass containers cannot be shown without flowers in them. They are not vases.
Since the earliest Christian depictions, flowers held religious meaning and reminded viewers of their own impending death and the need to live an upright life. The Victorians made floral language into an art, where each flower spoke loudly. In their language of flowers, red roses were for true love, hyacinth for forgiveness and so on. But each vessel also speaks a coded language based on its colour, reflecting the 1970’s gay hanky code (red for fisting, purple for spanking). The glass receptacles are unique, each wavy rim a portrait of someone’s anus. Petry invited men and women on the internet to send an image of their sphincter for the basis of a portrait, as it is one sexual part of our bodies that we cannot easily visualize, and whose visage is similar for men and women.
These works appear as simple floral arrangements in pretty vases but are also sexually explicit portraits that continually change.
Petry has also made a series of prints – showing each vessel with their flowers at the height of their freshness as well as fully desiccated. He has agreed to make a new lenticular print edition just for Artlyst that will show both states at the same time. As viewers move their head left to right the image will change from one state to the other (fresh to dead and back again).
Petry has said, ‘Nature dies, flowers die, we die, we can escape morality but mortality always brings with it the floral bouquet. There is no escape from the hands of the florist.’
This print published by Artlyst and the artist Michael Petry coincides with the launch of the artist’s latest book Nature Morte, published by Thames & Hudson. The book will also be available for sale on Artlyst through recommended books on Amazon.
Prints are sold unframed Price includes UK shipping and VAT
Edition of 100
Signed and numbered by artist
ABOUT MICHAEL PETRY
Michael Petry (born El Paso, Texas, 1960) has lived in London since 1981. He studied at Rice University, Houston (BA), London Guildhall University (MA), and has a Doctor in Arts from Middlesex University. Petry is an artist, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) London, and Guest Curator for Futurecity. He co-founded the Museum of Installation, and was Guest Curator at the Kunstakademiet, Oslo, and Research Fellow at the University of Wolverhampton and was Curator of the Royal Academy Schools Gallery. Petry is a Fellow of the Royal British Society of Sculptors (FRBS) and a Brother of the Art Workers Guild. Petry co-authored Installation Art (1994), and Installation in the New Millennium (2003), and authored Abstract Eroticism (1996) and A Thing of Beauty is…(1997). The Trouble with Michael, a monograph of his practice, was published by Art Media Press in 2001. Petry?s book Hidden Histories: 20th-century male same-sex lovers in the visual arts (2004) is the first comprehensive survey of its kind, and accompanied the exhibition Hidden Histories he curated for The New Art Gallery Walsall. His two-volume book Golden Rain (2008) accompanied his installation for the On the Edge exhibition for Stavanger 2008, European Capital of Culture. Petry’s book, The Art of Not Making: The New Artist Artisan Relationship for Thames & Hudson was published in April, 2011. Petry was the first Artist in Residence at Sir John Soane’s Museum (2010/11) exhibiting two bodies of work, published in Smoke & Mirrors (2011). His recent one-man show The Touch of the Oracle at the Palm Springs Art Museum (2012) was accompanied by a ten year career review book distributed by Thames & Hudson. His new book Nature Morte: Contemporary Artists reinvigorate the Still-Life tradition, is out in hardback in 3 editions, Thames & Hudson (English), Hirmer (German) and Ludion (Dutch) mid-October. He will make a new large scale porcelain installation Libation for Apollo, in October for the Alentejo Triennial, Portugal.