But Is It Art?


It looks like a field of wildflowers, which it is (was...) It was commissioned for Grant Park in Chicago in 1984 and created and planted by the Texan artist Chapman Kelly. The work, called "Wildflower Works", was a 1.5 acre field of rare wildflowers. The artist described it as a painting in the summer and sculpture in the winter. He said that it was "a pilot study in ecologically sound, low maintenance public landscaping." It contained 200,000 plants, 47 different species, including evening primroses, poppies, daisies and larkspurs and bloomed happily until 2004. Kelly and his friends and supporters maintained it over the years with their own time and money. Then in 2004 the Chicago Parks Department, without consulting Kelly, cut its size in half, surrounded it with a knee-high hedge and planted a water-guzzling lawn.

Kelley, who was 71 at the time, took them to court and sued under legislation created specifically to protect public art. He said that it was environmental art and that he wasn't given sufficient time to take legal action or remove the flowers himself. The judge questioned whether the work could qualify for protection under the legislation since it was not a painting. But the lawyer convinced the judge that the work was a sculpture made of flowers and the judge agreed. He also ruled that Kelly was the owner of the flowers and the value of the flowers that had been destroyed was $1.5M. The victory comes in the midst of a municipal battle to save the park from redevelopment. So the next time you seen a garden that looks like a work of art, remember: it is! :: The Art Newspaper

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