It is rare that purely practical consideration stimulates an artist to create a wonderful body of work. E. V. Day, an artist well known for her installation sculptures, such as “Bride Flight,” last summer was the lucky recipient of the Claude Monet Artist in Residence. She spent the summer at Monet’s estate in Giverny, France, whose magnificent gardens inspired many of his best-known paintings.
E.V. made it her habit to follow the gardeners in their daily routine, which included deadheading the flowers. She kept the most beautiful wilted blossoms and microwaved them in the kitchen. The staff concluded that she consumed them as part some strange diet. Not so. Instead, she pressed them. Back in New York, when she scanned the pressed flowers, she realized that the high-resolution images were of such quality that they could be blown up to six-foot enlarged printouts of stunning clarity. Artists more typically move from two-dimensional art to three-dimensional projects, but E.V. went the other way, thereby sparing herself the trouble of transporting an installation sculpture from France back to the U.S.
“Seducers” is the appropriate name for the stunning exhibit of these images, at Carolina Nitsch Project Room through March 5th. (A portfolio is also at the Armory show, booth 926.) Feminine sexuality is a subject E.V. has explored in many of her works of art, but never as seductively as in this show. Her elegant flowers, vibrantly alive and sensuous, put the viewer in the perspective of a bee entering a blossom. They have a fleshy presence that stimulates body and mind.
The picture above, “La Nymphe au Bassin aux Nymphéas,” is a result of E.V.’s collaboration with the performance artist Kembra Pfahler. Looking at it for the first time, I thought perhaps a photoshopped alien had landed at Giverny. But it’s the real thing: Kembra posing in full performance regalia, her image splendidly reflected in Monet’s nymph pond.
Elisabeth Biondi was the Visuals Editor at The New Yorker from 1996 to 2011.