Black Roses (In Memory of Isabella Blow) 2007

A skeleton with flowers on the head crosses its arms in front of its torso and a skirt made of roses cascades down the rest of the body. The artwork is very narrow and tall.

Audrey Niffenegger, Black Roses (In Memory of Isabella Blow), 2007; Gift of Audrey Niffenegger; © 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.  

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