The Eroticism and Mythology of the Naked Bud
And the Mischaracterization of Georgia O'Keeffe's Flower Portraits
ALTHOUGH IT IS HARDLY my intent, this winter bud might evoke for you the sensuality of a Georgia O’Keeffe painting. It is, after all, what botanists call a “naked bud.”
And yet this week’s image allows me to address misperceptions about O’Keeffe’s flowers and about plant parts like this — the terminal bud of a forest shrub called Hobblebush (Viburnum lantanoides).
In the arena of gender and sexual politics, our cultural linking of flowers with femininity and fertility is at the very least botanically invalid. Flowers are male or female or both — or even fluid. And art, like sexuality, can be … you know … complicated.