Urgent Museum Notice

Black Roses (In Memory of Isabella Blow)

Close up of Black Roses (In Memory of Isabella Blow)

A very tall and narrow, black-and-white print pictures a skeleton with folded arms, a rose fascinator perched on its head. The figure wears a collaged, three-dimensional, billowing skirt made of tissue and printed with roses.

Audrey Niffenegger, Black Roses (In Memory of Isabella Blow), 2007; Linocut, Gampi tissue, and thread on Japanese paper, 67 x 25 1/2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Audrey Niffenegger; © Audrey Niffenegger; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Black Roses (In Memory of Isabella Blow)
Audrey Niffenegger

Audrey Niffenegger often confronts themes of mortality and the passage of time in an attempt to startle her viewers into appreciating “the fleeting nature of our selves.” Skeletons feature prominently in her macabre images because, as the artist describes, they are part of a “vocabulary for expressing ideas about permanence and the ephemeral.”

For her 2007 exhibition Elegy for Isabella Blow, Niffenegger created multimedia works to pay tribute to the late British fashion editor. The artist often portrays troubled women—both real and imagined. Like many of the artist’s tragic characters, Blow suffered from mental and physical anguish leading up to her death.

Niffenegger created a portrait of Blow as an elaborately adorned skeleton, strangely delicate in an array of black roses. Silky Japanese tissue forms the flowers of the skeleton’s skirt. The rose atop Blow’s head alludes to hat designer Philip Treacy, another Niffegger fashion icon.

Artwork Details

  • Artist

    Audrey Niffenegger
  • Title

    Black Roses (In Memory of Isabella Blow)
  • Date

  • Medium

    Gampi tissue, Linocut, Thread on Japanese paper
  • Dimensions

    67 x 25 1/2 in.
  • Donor Credit

    Gift of Audrey Niffenegger
  • Photo Credit

    © Audrey Niffenegger; Photo by Lee Stalsworth
  • On Display