Gelatin silver print
Image: 19.1 x 24.1 cm (7 1/2 x 9 1/2 in.); Mounted: 33.4 x 40.6 cm (13 1/8 x 16 in.); Matted: 45.7 x 55.9 cm (18 x 22 in.)
Severance and Greta Millikin Purchase Fund 2001.92
© 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents
After Cunningham closed a successful portrait studio to devote herself to parenting her three sons, she continued photographing. “Because I couldn’t get out anywhere, and I had a garden,” said Cunningham, she photographed her plants every afternoon when her children were napping. These were not picture-postcard views but extreme close-ups of plants that emphasize light and dark contrasts, detail, form, and pattern. Like this iconic image, they were unmanipulated depictions of flora, yet, at the same time, boldly abstract images. Cunningham helped blaze a trail for the recognition of photography as an art form that could go beyond documentation to explore pure expression and visual experimentation.
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