Press 2013

Sinuous arabesques and stylized flowers

The David Collection focuses on flowers with a new special exhibition that illustrates the overwhelming visual importance of plant motifs for art in the world of Islam.

For more than a thousand years, trees, plants, and flowers were among the most prevalent motifs in the art of the Islamic world. Many of these works of art saw the light of day in hot, dry, barren regions, which might explain why the lushness of the Paradise described in the Koran and that of artificially irrigated earthly gardens was especially attractive to Muslim artists.

Classical Islamic art has been somewhat reluctant to depict living creatures and to work with figurative motifs, primarily for religious reasons. Over the ages, many artists have accordingly concentrated on more abstract or stylized elements, and floral and vegetal motifs provided a suitably neutral subject.

Art from the world of Islam exhibits an exuberant infatuation with decoration, used unreservedly and masterfully, and taking its subjects especially from the great diversity of the plant kingdom. We find plants or ornamentation based on them on everything from mundane utility ware to the most costly luxury items – from manuscripts to architectural details, jewelry, glass, ceramics, textiles, and weapons. One vegetal ornament, above all, has almost become synonymous with Islamic art: the arabesque.

Flora islamica – Plant Motifs in the Art of Islam presents 66 pieces from the museum’s Islamic Collection and one Persian work of art each from Rosenborg Castle and Designmuseum Danmark. The exhibition is organized as follows: The Heavenly and the Earthly Garden, Inspiration from Antiquity, Inspiration from China, Abstraction, The Arabesque, Fantasy, Naturalism, Plants as a Symbol, Flowers of the Gunpowder Empires.

Parkmuseerne – Copenhagen’s new museum quarter
Flora islamica is the David Collection’s first contribution to the new joint effort – Parkmuseerne – together with the Filmhouse, the Hirschsprung Collection, Rosenborg Castle, the National Gallery of Denmark, and the Natural History Museum of Denmark. This museum quarter in and around Copenhagen’s parks begins its collaboration with a number of exhibitions and other initiatives taking flowers as their common theme.

Exhibition period: Friday, March 22 to Sunday, October 27, 2013.

Admission: Admission to the David Collection is free.

Guided tours in Danish in the exhibition: Saturday, March 23, at 14:00 and 15:00, Wednesday, April 3, at 19:30, Sunday, April 21, at 14:00 and 15:00.

Information and photos: Head of Communications, Anne Høgedal,, +45 3373 4949