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The Art Institute of Chicago

Elspeth Diederix "Azalea"

Elspeth Diederix "Azalea"

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From: The Art Institute of Chicago
Limited Edition: 2
Exhibition: In Sight: Contemporary Dutch Photography from the Collection of the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
Material: Printed vinyl
Dimensions: 29" x 99" (73cm x 251cm)

Hanging Hardware Included


Post-tulipomania, The Netherlands still remains world-renowned for it's production of flowers. How fitting then, that two stunning banners from The The Art Institute of Chicago's exhibition, "In Sight: Contemporary Dutch Photography" feature a photograph by Elspeth Diederix titled "Azalea". Be sure to take a close look, because what at first appears to be merely a lovely image of an azalea bush actually has a bit more to say. The perfect banner for those with a love of nature – and the unexpected!


The work of Elspeth Diederix is at the crossroads of nature and society. Where one ends, the other seamlessly begins in photographs that blend the beauty of the natural world with the excesses of our consumption society. Hers is less a commentary on the evils wrought upon nature by humans than a statement about how the two can, and must, work together. In the stark beauty of her magical, often surreal images, there is a feeling of hopefulness that such a relationship can exist.

Diederix’s photographs never merely capture a random scene upon which she has stumbled. Instead, she works as a director, carefully and intentionally placing each item within her composition to dramatic effect. She uses incongruous materials like plastics and harsh chemical paints to contrast with beautiful, natural settings. This is nowhere more obvious and striking that in her 2003 photograph Azalea where the beauty of a flowering bush is strewn with brightly colored plastic bags.

The image on the banner is a detail of Diederix’s Azalea, the bush’s delicate branches and fragile pink flowers playing host to a riot of colorful plastic sacks. Playing upon the theme of human impact on nature, the photograph at first appears to be nothing more than an azalea bush in unusual, multi-color bloom. On closer inspection, one sees that the azalea bush is in fact hung with multi-colored plastic shopping bags. The colorful bags effectively play upon the illusion of nature where in fact there has been the impact of man. The meaning with which her work is imbued stems from this juxtaposition of the seemingly natural with the highly unnatural and unexpected.

Below the detail of Azalea on the front of the banner there is a lavender band with white text that reads “Through May 8, 2005”. The other side of the banner features a red background with white text that reads “In Sight” and lavender text that reads “Contemporary Dutch Photography”. Below this is a lavender band with the name of the museum “The Art Institute of Chicago” in white letters, and the name and logo of the exhibition’s sponsor “LaSalle Bank/ABN AMRO”.


This banner was displayed around downtown Chicago to promote the exhibition, In Sight: Contemporary Dutch Photography from the Collection of the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam at The Art Institute of Chicago. This was the only venue for this exhibition.

About the Artist

Learn more about Elspeth Diederix

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