Research

Houseplants & Contemporary Art

There’s something fun and funny about live houseplants in contemporary artworks.

Live plants takes the edge off of self-serious contemporary art. By growing or dying, plants challenge the static condition of art-hood and the illusion of timelessness. Their standardized pots clue the viewer in to their status as ready-mades. By referencing consumer culture, decoration and domestic life, there is an appealing familiarity. Houseplants strike me as unpretentious and welcoming.


Won Ju Lim. Ruined Traces, 2007. Installation with projections, vitrines and artificial houseplants. Patrick Painter Gallery, Santa Monica, CA. Image Source: Art Rabbit, feature on LA art by Courtney Shermer, Oct. 16, 2007. (Granted, these aren’t live houseplants, but I included them because they function the same. Plus, live plants wouldn’t survive an exhibition run such a dark space.)

Simon & Tom Bloor: As Long As It Lasts

Simon & Tom Bloor: As Long As It Lasts. Installation view, Eastside Projects, Birmingham, UK.


Mostly trees, but there is a houseplant in the background. Image Source: Eastside Projects.

Martin Creed, work from Down Over Up, 2010

Martin Creed, work from Down Over Up, 2010


Down Over Up is on view at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh through October 31, 2010.
Image Source (and many more delightful photos at): This Is Tomorrow, thanks to NM. (I’m also loving the black, diagonal, paint roller stripes in the gallery.)

Alejandro Almanza Pereda, A doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.

Alejandro Almanza Pereda, A doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines


Image Source: Artist’s site.
Alejandro Almanza Pereda exhibits a larger iteration of this sculpture in The Heaviest Luggage for the Traveler is the Empty One
at Magnan Metz Gallery in Chelsea, NY, through October 23, 2010.

Rodney McMillian, Succulent, 2010, Installation view, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles

Rodney McMillian, Succulent, 2010, Installation view, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles


Tiny image, sorry. Image source: Paper Monument.

Also — Jeremy Deller said

I have a fantasy of lighting a concert with some tropical plants on turntables and a few lights.

Brilliant! Read more from the joint interview between Deller and David Byrne (awesome just got awesomer) at ArtInfo.com.

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