A floral arrangement inspired by Frank Stella

THE ARRANGEMENT | A simple stand of tulips evokes the lines and palette of Frank Stella’s 1970 canvas, “Flin Flon VI”. David Stark and Victoria Shaheen Pierced Floral Rests for Culture Lab Detroit, from $ 85, FleurDetroit, 248-953-3840


Stephen Kent Johnson for The Wall Street Journal, Floral Style by Lindsey Taylor, Prop Syling by Nidia Cueva

THE CHALLENGE to interpret in a floral way a work of art each month for this column pushed me to approach paintings with moods and palettes that you do not see in those of the obvious Dutch masters and impressionists. I rather like it.

Frank Stella’s 1970 canvas ‘Flin Flon VI’


© 2010 Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society, New York, Photo: Birmingham Museum of Art (Inspiration)

Yet, as I walked the aisles of a wholesale flower shop in Manhattan one recent morning, utterly bewildered, I wondered about the wisdom of choosing Frank Stella’s abstract canvas “Flin Flon VI” (1970) as my last point of departure. I had thought the time was right: a Stella retrospective has just ended at the Whitney Museum in New York and the colors of the painting nicely anticipated spring.

As I sipped coffee to get out of a creative stalemate, I realized the answer was staring at me: the most classic of spring flowers, the vivid, graphic and kinetic tulip.

The saturated colors of these single, double, and parrot varieties echo Mr. Stella’s palette, and the closed buds and foliage form dots and arcs delightfully similar to those in the painting. It was liberating and decisive to pick only one type of flower.

For my container, I chose a new design from event designer David Stark and ceramist Victoria Asheley Shaheen: a pierced ceramic lid resting on a simple glass vase. This allowed the sweeping of the fresh green stems to show almost uninterrupted, to better evoke my inspiration.

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