“In fact, the Blaschka plants are arguably rarer and more precious than their living counterparts, since the earth can make more and the Blaschkas cannot. The collection out-flowers flowers. Inevitably, there is something both mythological and hubristic—shades of Babel, Arachne, Icarus, not to mention Dolly, the cloned sheep—about the artist who dares cruise too close to natural perfection. The Blaschkas were playing God, and the seamlessness of their success is unnerving. It is counterbalanced, though, by the stubbornly shabby premises, the absent-minded-professor atmosphere, and, essentially, by the very intensity of the makers’ gaze. Their observations of natural form act like a Möbius strip, swirling from diligent science to flamboyant art, from a sublime efflorescence of willed form back into the humble human effort to describe.
The practical application of the Glass Flowers as research specimens subsided with the advent of precise color photography, plastics, air travel, and refrigerated transport. And, predictably, as the primacy of their scientific literalness receded, their role as fetish and metaphor gained power. The Blaschkas’ masterworks not only represent the urge to catalogue and preserve, not just the thrill of illusion and mimesis, but the primal sex-and-death tableau of flowers. It is worth noting, at the end, that one of the earliest known collected objects was botanical—a sea urchin inscribed in Eyptian hieroglyphs with the date, the name of the collector, and the site of the find.8 In collecting, the beloved is possessed perpetually, even if that beloved is the world at large. In the Glass Flowers, as in love, attention becomes creation. ”
excerpt from the article Great Vitreous Tact, by Frances Richard, in Cabinet, Issue 6 Horticulture Spring 2002. Continue reading here