Yuji Agematsu
no time, no location, 2014
Aluminum, tar, wood, painters tape, rubber, hair and lint pinned to foam board
9 1/8 x 14 1/2 x 1 3/4 inches

John Alexander
Cobalt Blues, 2016
Oil on canvas
60 x 70 inches

Theodora Allen
The Snake, No. 5, 2016
Oil on linen
16 x 16 inches

Facundo Argañaraz
Rosae Crucis, 2017
Acrylic and UV cured ink transfer on canvas
66 x 44 inches

Ernesto Caivano
FVAC 110, 2017
Graphite and ink on paper
9 3/8 x 6 3/8 inches

Imogen Cunningham
Agave Design 2, 1920s
Gelatin silver print
9 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches

D.S. & Durga
Let Praises Break Forth
From a Motet by Michael Praetorius (1605) that celebrates the birth of Christ. Radiant honeysuckle, white musk, cedrat
50 ML
Fragrance, created in a limited edition of 3

Jim Dine
The Issue of Spring, 2004
Charcoal, pastel, gesso and acrylic on paper
47 1/2 x 60 inches

Ryan Foerster
Compost print green, 2013-14
Unique C-print
20 x 16 inches

Nick Goss
Windmill, 2015
Oil, acrylic and screen print on linen
91 x 55 inches

Evan Holloway
Bones, 2017
Plaster, steel, spent batteries
90 1/4 x 36 x 36 inches

Max Hooper Schneider
Hybrid Kugelhopf IV, 2017
Custom acrylic vitrine, resin bundt cake, mixed media
67 x 22 x 22 inches

Parker Ito
Capitol Records Shits Toots (sunrise bouquet w/ crane), 2016
Acrylic, toner and gloss varnish on linen
84 x 60 x 1 inches

Rashid Johnson
Green Grey, 2014
Black soap, wax
48 x 36 x 2 inches

Ellsworth Kelly
Easter Lily, 1984
Graphite on paper
21 1/2 x 29 1/2 inches

Kapwani Kiwanga
Flowers for Africa: South Sudan, 2017
Flowers, satin ribbon

Approximately: 23 1/2 x 11 3/4 x 3 7/8 inches

Henri Matisse
Jazz, 1947
Twenty pochoirs printed in colors
Each sheet approximately: 16 3/4 x 25 1/2 inches
Edition of 250 

Sam McKinniss
Fairy Roses (after Fantin-Latour), 2017
Oil and acrylic on canvas
24 x 18 inches

Beatriz Milhazes
Mareola, 2014-15
Acrylic on canvas
31 7/16 x 15 11/16 inches

Donald Moffett
Lot 081716 (flowers shot), 2016
Pigmented epoxy resin, archival inkjet print on wood panel support with steel hardware
60 x 45 x 6 1/4 inches

Daido Moriyama
Artificial Underwater Flower, 1990/2010
Gelatin silver print
20 x 16 inches

Dominic Nurre
Adam, 2017
Vintage lamp, wiring and aluminum
74 x 22 x 24 inches

Irving Penn
Cigarette No. 037, New York, 1972 / printed 1974
Platinum-palladium print on Arches
Image: 23 3/8 x 17 3/8 inches
Mount: 26 x 22 inches
Edition of 70 

Jason Rhoades
Trim (Idol 75), 2005
Neon phrase, transformer, camel saddle, various materials
31 7/8 x 15 x 11 inches

Gerhard Richter
Philodendron, 1967
Oil on canvas
31 7/16 x 36 9/16 inches

Linda Ridgway
In a turning row, II, 2017
Bronze and cotton
34 x 20 1/2 x 8 inches

Tabor Robak
Mana Curve, 2017
Generative animation on custom PC
Height: 75 inches
Edition of 3 

Philip Taaffe
Strata Asplenium, 2014
Mixed media on canvas
64 1/4 x 55 1/8 inches

Fred Tomaselli
Untitled, 2013
Photo-collage, leaves, acrylic and resin on wood panel
24 x 24 inches

Evelyn Taocheng Wang
Landscape of LA 1, 2016
Ink on rice paper, artist frame
40 1/2 x 37 3/4 inches

Kehinde Wiley
Sterculia Chicha, 2015
Watercolor on paper
16 x 12 inches

Donald Roller Wilson
Oil on canvas in artist's frame
Oval: 12 x 10 inches
Framed: 30 x 20 x 10 inches

Luiz Zerbini
Corifa Japonesa, 2016
Oil on paper
42 1/8 x 30 3/4 inches

Press Release

Berggruen Gallery is pleased to present Botánica, a group exhibition by guest curator Todd von Ammon, on view July 13 – August 29, 2017. The gallery will host an opening reception on Thursday, July 13 from 5:00–8:00 p.m. Named after the botánica shops of the San Francisco Mission district—purveyors of a wide variety of medicinal herbs and folk medicines—this exhibition examines the many transformations of botany in contemporary art. Botánica explores the curious case of the still life in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, through the lens of artists whose interpretations of this subject matter range from the traditional to the idiosyncratic. Each work in the show presents a different state of organic matter, culminating into an anti-ecosystem of sorts that highlights a wide array of distinct art taxonomies. The unique materials, techniques and histories are as varied as the number of works—from generative digital video to found street detritus to oil paint. Botánica intends to evoke the dizzyingly wide variety of substances and objects found within the shops from which the exhibition derives its name.

Botany in traditional art historical practice is manifested in the genre of still life painting, drawing, and later photography. The long and complex history of the still life—the rise of the Dutch still life painting tradition to symbolically communicate such themes as the brevity of life (vanitas), and its relative ranking by the French Academy during the seventeenth century as the lowest genre because it depicts solely inanimate objects—is simultaneously challenged and celebrated in contemporary art. A number of works in Botánica, such as those by John Alexander, Imogen Cunningham, Ellsworth Kelly, and Sam McKinniss, closely adhere to this long-standing practice and often directly pay homage to the iconic artists we so often associate with the genre, such as Claude Monet and Henri Fantin-Latour. Contemporary art, however, has revealed its guarantee of unpredictability and flux, and oftentimes an artwork’s quality is defined by how intrepid its challenge is to common sense and the quotidian. Botánica investigates the various layers and meanings of the still life, in both its traditional and contemporary forms.

According to Hakuin Ekaku, one of the most influential masters of Zen Buddhism, the aim of seeing into one’s own nature can only be fully accomplished through cutting off the root of life. The term ikebana, or the art of flower arrangement, literally translates to “making flowers live” through initiating the plant’s inevitable death by cutting the plant at its root. The action of the “cut” in Japanese aesthetic discourse is called kire and is an essential tenet of the ikebana practice. The plant is cut at its root and removed from the earth to be arranged and placed oftentimes in alcoves in the rooms of a house where guests are received. Somewhat antithetically, the act of killing the plant is precisely what allows its true nature to come to the fore. The ikebana artist brings greater truth to the plant by removing it from its earthly context. Flowers for Africa: South Sudan (2017), a floral bouquet installation by Kapwani Kiwanga made to commemorate the independence of that African country by reproducing a flower decoration from the 2011 ceremonies, beautifully illustrates the crossover between traditional and contemporary still life practice and ikebana. The work is still life experienced in the flesh, recalling the Dutch vanitas paintings through its literal process of decay, which takes place over the course of the exhibition’s duration. Other works featured in the exhibition, such as Ryan Foerster’s vibrant and surprisingly artful C-print photographs of decomposing compost, similarly embody the seemingly incongruous notion of beauty arising from something that fundamentally represents mortality and decay. Living plants have the extraordinary ability to capture and transmute energy into the stuff of human survival—refuse and exhaust, through a process of delicate alchemy, are regenerated into fresh air and calories. All of these reactions occur far beyond the narrow field of human perception, and thus the flower or leaf is underestimated and overlooked as the organic nuclear reactor it truly is. Instead, it is admired in a purely decorative sense for the deceptively simple function of emitting light along the visible spectrum. Moreover, the petal and the leaf seem to be most charming when these subatomic systems have been shut down forever.

Botánica defined refers to small stores or shops within the United States that sell herbs, candles, oils, incense, powders and other materials, often paired with ritualistic practices or blessings administered by a traditional healer, called a curandera, to treat physical as well as spiritual ailments. The prepackaged herbal blends that these botánicas dispense serve a variety of different purposes: to bring money, work or love, to ward off bad luck, to seek protection or guidance. Humankind has borrowed the leaves, roots and flowers of vegetation for millennia in order to reach higher psychic and spiritual states. It is no wonder that organisms that perform such uncanny transformations of energy can dramatically alter human perception when ingested. Bloom #6 (2011) by Fred Tomaselli—a deliriously oscillating, psychedelic form intended to invoke the mind’s drug-altered state—and Sunset Park (2015) by Tom Fruin—a delicately woven quilt or flag of found plastic drug bags in incongruously cheerful colors—exemplify two ways in which contemporary artists have incorporated plants and their psychic properties into their artistic practices, giving a new layer of social commentary and meaning to the traditional “still life” work. At a time when the greenness of the world holds less promise of durability than ever before, perhaps it is a worthwhile pursuit to recall the evidence that the living flower, an energy powerhouse capable of sustaining life or transforming one’s mental state, is also a potent reminder of our mortality. It is in consideration of these attributes and abilities that lie beyond the visible spectrum that we can appreciate the plant or flower for more than its very durable charm.

Full Artist List

      Yuji Agematsu                                    Evan Holloway                                  Dominic Nurre
     John Alexander                             Max Hooper Schneider                               Irving Penn          
     Theodora Allen                                       Parker Ito                                       Jason Rhoades
     Darren Almond                                  Rashid Johnson                                 Gerhard Richter            
  Facundo Argañaraz                                Ellsworth Kelly                                   Linda Ridgway
    Ernesto Caivano                                Kapwani Kiwanga                                  Tabor Robak
      James Crosby                                     Henri Matisse                                      Philip Taaffe
Imogen Cunningham                              Sam McKinniss                                   Fred Tomaselli
         Jim Dine                                       Beatriz Milhazes                            Evelyn Taocheng Wang
     Ryan Foerster                                    Donald Moffett                                    Kehinde Wiley
       Tom Fruin                                     David Seth Moltz                            Donald Roller Wilson
        Nick Goss                                      Daido Moriyama                                    Luiz Zerbini

Botánica, curated by Todd von Ammon, July 13 – August 29, 2017. Todd von Ammon is a gallerist and curator based in New York and currently the director of Team Gallery. Previous curated shows include Old Black, Ghost Outfit and Dolores at Team Gallery; VBS at the Bennington College Usdan Galleries, and Mike at FOURAM. von Ammon’s concurrent exhibition, Wormwood, is on view at the Ellis King Gallery in Dublin, Ireland. He is a member of the ICI (Independent Curators International) and serves on the organization's benefit committee. Botánica  is on view at 10 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. Images and preview are available upon request. For all inquiries, please contact the gallery by phone (415) 781-4629 or by email info@berggruen.com.