Black Tulip
Cornelia Parker

Black Tulip

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Photopolymer print on Fabriano Tiepolo 290gsm 2017 42 × 30cm

Cornelia Parker’s deceptively simple conceptual work investigates the symbolism, psychology and science of objects with a lightness of touch but a powerful semantic language. Her academic, narrative-driven work reflects an enduring fascination with found objects which she physically and allegorically transforms. She is known for works that capture a moment of violence or extreme emotion with cinematic intensity, such as her exploded shed Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View (1991); and the collaborative curation projects of recent years demonstrated by Magna Carta (an Embroidery) 2015. 

Parker’s contribution to the Portfolio was made by placing a glass tumbler containing a white tulip onto a photogravure plate then exposing it to a raked UV light. The underside of the glass is in direct contact with the plate therefore is captured in fine detail, while the tulip being further away, becomes a cast shadow. The art-making process becomes an act of transubstantiation, turning the humble white tulip into a valuable black one. 

Over the centuries the search for a black tulip has become legendary, thanks to Alexander Dumas’ 1850 novel La Tulipe Noire. Its mythology has spread throughout the world, causing the black tulip to become a byword for that which is unattainable. 


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