“A rose is a rose is a rose,” wrote the modernist Gertrude Stein in 1913, attempting to empty the flower of “flowery” meanings. She might have been thinking of Madame Charlotte de Latour’s dictionary of floriography, Le Langage des Fleurs, published in Paris in 1819, complete with exquisite illustrations by a student of Redouté, Pancrace Bessa. “At the time of publication,” says Phillip March Jones, who has curated an art exhibition of the same title, “de Latour’s book represented a roadmap to navigating around strict Victorian-era etiquette by providing agreed-upon definitions for the meaning of flowers that were given to communicate emotions that could not be expressed freely in words.” In short, a rose isn’t just a rose. For The Language of Flowers, March Jones asked nine artists known for an affinity with flowers to create new works. It’s a contemporary floriography, if you will, with up-to-the-minute meanings. —L.J.
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