Art of the Week
Mapplethorpe and Rady - Cala Lilies
on display now at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Robert Mapplethorpe, Calla Lily
Elsa Rady, Still Life I
This stunning example of Robert Mapplethorpe's work demonstrates the
dramatic evolution in the treatment and meaning of still life over the past
two centuries. Mapplethorpe's still lifes cannot be fully understood apart
from his homoerotic figurative works. Mapplethorpe interpreted flowers, the
reproductive structures of seed-bearing plants, as interchangeable with the
male sex organ. Of all flowers, he was especially attracted to the calla
lily, a symbol of homosexuality.
Robert Mapplethorpe, Calla Lily, 1986/89, gelatin silver print. Santa
Barbara Museum of Art, Museum Purchase, funds provided by the 20th-Century
Art Acquisition Fund, Susan E. Bower, and an anonymous donor.
Inspired by the calla lily, Elsa Rady uses the medium of sculpture to create
simplified forms, refined surfaces, and balanced compositions. In Still
Life I, her modern, poetic treatment echoes the formal elegance of earlier
artistic efforts by modern women artists such as Georgia O'Keeffe.
Elsa Rady, Still Life I, 1991, porcelain on anodized aluminum shelf. Santa
Barbara Museum of Art, Museum Purchase, funds provided by the 20th-Century Art Acquisition
Fund and an anonymous donor.