A MoMA Look Back: The Delphiniums of Edward Steichen
Editor's Note: We're subscribers to Garden Design, a magazine that we look forward to for the cutting edge (or is that pruning edge?) of its articles. The magazine's article, Art & Botany: Edward Steichen's Delphiniums, inspired us to reprint the original press release of the exhibit that New York City's Museum of Modern Art hosted 76 years ago.
For release Monday, June 32, 1936 weather permitting!
Installation view of the exhibition, Edward Steichen's Delphiniums. June 24, 1936 through July 1, 1936. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photograph by Edward Steichen
The Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53 Street, announces a very unusual one-man, one-week show which will be opened to the public Wednesday, June 24, at one p.m. It will be an exhibition of "Steichen Delphiniums" — rare now American varieties developed through twenty-six years of cross-breeding and selection by Edward Steichen. Although Mr. Steichen is widely known for his photography, this is the first time his delphiniums have been given a public showing. They are original varieties, as creatively produced as his photographs. To avoid confusion, it should be noted that the actual delphiniums will be shown in the Museum — not paintings or photographs of them. It will be a "personal appearance" of the flowers themselves.
Mr. Steichen is President of the Delphinium Society of America. His interest in cross-breeding and selection of flowers began thirty years ago, but in 1906 he became interested chiefly in the breeding of delphiniums. He now devotes ten acres in Connecticut to that purpose and uses about one plant in forty for cross-breeding. The rest are plowed under. Some day when he feels satisfied with his work he hopes to give the results of it to the world in a few rare varieties of delphinium.
The delphiniums will be shown in relays at the Museum of Modern Art. The first group starting Wednesday, June 24th will consist of the garden hybrids of the true-blue or pure-blue colors, and the fog and mist shades. The final group, with giant spikes in the Metropolitan area from four to six feet high, will be placed on exhibition Monday,June 29th. The flowers will be shown on the first floor of the museum in connection with the current exhibition of Modern Exposition Architecture on that floor.
The modern delphinium grown in this country is a fusion of qualities of countless species that have existed in many parts of the world: North America, Tibet, the Swiss Alps, the Mediterranean countries, Central Europe, Asia. The name was given the flower in its primitive state by the botanists of Ancient Greece, who saw in its unopened buds a resemblance to the dolphin. As the dolphin was the fish into which Apollo Delphinius transformed himself on occasion, the derivation of the name goes directly back to the god of the arts and music. One of the early Greek festivals was the Delpninia, held in April, when young girls proceeded to the principal temple of Apollo, the Delphinium, bearing flowering branches.
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