Flora Photographica: A Potpourri of Pictures with Danae Panchaud and Abe Morell


We're all about flower power on this week's podcast, in celebration of Valentine's Day. Joining us in discussion are photography curator Danae Panchaud, co-author of the recent book Flora Photographica, along with contributing photographer and audience favorite Abelardo Morell.

After describing the book's genesis and scope, Panchaud delves into the extensive research process she and co-author William Ewing employed to sift through many thousands of photographs celebrating this wide-ranging subject. From sumptuous floral still life to delicate blooms photographed in service of an activist cause to conceptual treatments depicting flowers as imposters of real life and beyond—this magnificent book offers fertile ground for consideration and debate.

After a break we continue the conversation with photographer Abelardo Morell, whose featured images from the series Flowers for Lisa evolved from a single photograph created as a gift for his wife to encompass a wide-ranging exploration of and homage to great artists of the past.

As an alternative to a floral bouquet, we invite you to consider the enduring value in the gift of a photograph—or better yet an entire book of floral photography—to make a photoholic's heart flutter.

Guests: Danae Panchaud and Abelardo Morell

Above photograph © Abelardo Morell

2014 - Flowers For Lisa #1
2016 - Flowers For Lisa #26, featured in Flora Photographica
2016 - Flowers For Lisa #30, featured in Flora Photographica
2017 - Flowers For Lisa #44
2017 - Flowers For Lisa #47, featured in Flora Photographica
2017 - Flowers For Lisa #62, After Louise Bourgeois
2017 - Flowers For Lisa #66, After Lewis Carroll
2017 - Flowers For Lisa #70, After Douglas Sirk
2017 - Flowers For Lisa #76 - After Hitchcock’s Vertigo
Flowers For Lisa book cover, this image also featured in Flora…
Abelardo Morell

After Redoute, 2019 © Pamela Ellis Hawkes
Metachrome (Flowers, after Redon II), 2016 © Vik Muniz, Courtesy of the…
Untitled VI, from the series Isolation, 2015 © Nadav Kander, Courtesy…
Lesser Periwinkle (Vinca Minor), 2009 © Niki Simpson, www.visualbotany…
Jeff Koons with Floral Headpiece New York, NY, 2013 © Martin Schoeller,…
Depending on the Red Gerbera, 2019 © Pedro Almodόvar
Het Boeket, from the series Pictures of Her, 2017 (flowers by Brigitte…
Pumpkin Tendrils from the series Blossfeldt’s Apprentice, 2016 © Elaine…
Flora Photographica book cover, courtesy of Thames & Hudson, Book Cover…

Episode Timeline

  • 4:52: Danae Panchaud explains the research process for Flora Photographica and describes the joy in discovering the innovative methods photographers have used to explore this wide-ranging subject.
  • 10:16: Distinctions between the new edition of Flora Photographica and an earlier volume by William Ewing sharing the same title, published in the 1990s.
  • 13:53: The effects of digital tools and technologies, on the images themselves, and the research methods used to source images for the book.
  • 16:31: Insights about Flora Photographica's nine intriguing chapter titles: Roots, In Situ, Enquiry, Arrangement, Essence, Imposters, Hybrids, Fugue, and Reverie.
  • 21:00: Incorporating floral pictures with political themes and conceptual work on floral subjects, and the use of captions to help convey these messages.
  • 23:55: Using the element of surprise in picture selection and sequencing to highlight unexpected images and allow readers to discover new artists.
  • 32:50: Episode break
  • 34:20: Abe Morell's first flower photograph was a double gift: a birthday gift for his wife and a gift for Morell to embark on a new challenge.
  • 38:19: The benefits of working at home in the studio to use as a breeding ground for new ideas.
  • 39:55: The incorporation of painting with photography, and Morell's efforts to reinterpret and transform past works from art history.
  • 42:34: How work on this photo series enhanced Morell's perception of flowers as a common object.

Guest Bios:

Danae Panchaud is a photography curator, lecturer, and museum professional based in Switzerland. After studying photography at the widely acclaimed Vevey School of the Arts, she turned to curatorial practices at Geneva University of Art and Design. She has since held positions in the fields of contemporary art, design, and science at several Swiss institutions. From 2018 to 2021, she served as director and curator of Photoforum Pasquart in Biel. She was appointed director of the Centre de la Photographie Genève in 2021, where she explores the medium as a tool for constructing knowledge through contemporary and historical photographs. Panchaud is actively involved in a number of Swiss associations for photography and the arts, currently serving as president of Spectrum – Photography in Switzerland.

Abelardo Morell is a repeat visitor to the podcast, having previously appeared in the show Abelardo Morell: Alchemist of Photography, in 2022. Born in Havana, Cuba, Morell immigrated to the United States with his parents at the age of 14. After earning a BFA from Bowdoin College and an MFA from Yale, he had a distinguished career as a photography professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design from 1983 to 2010. Morell has received many awards and accolades for his work, including a Guggenheim fellowship in 1994, an ICP Infinity Award in 2011, and a Lucie Award for achievement in fine art in 2017. He is the author of eight books, including Flowers for Lisa, the subject of today's discussion, and his photographs have been exhibited and collected by galleries, institutions, and museums worldwide.

Stay Connected:

Flora Photographica Book: https://thamesandhudson.com/
Danae Panchaud Website: https://danaepanchaud.net/
Danae Panchaud Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/danae.panchaud/
Danae Panchaud Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/danaepanchaud/
Danae Panchaud Medium: https://medium.com/@danaep
Centre de la Photographie Genève Website: https://www.centrephotogeneve.ch/

Abelardo Morell Website: https://www.abelardomorell.net/
Abe Morell's Flowers for Lisa book: https://www.abramsbooks.com/
Abe Morell's Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/abelardomorell/
Abe Morell's Twitter: https://twitter.com/abelardomorell

Host: Allan Weitz
Senior Creative Producer: Jill Waterman
Senior Producer: Mike Weinstein
Executive Producer: Yermy Weiss
Editorial Director: Shawn C Steiner