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Australian art

Contemporary art

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A Rose Is A Rose (Marvin)



Denise Green

Australia, United States of America

1946 -


Green has combined a reduced schematic imagery with dominant abstract fields since the late 1970s when she first came to public attention when she was included in the exhibition 'New Image Painting', at the Whitney Museum in New York in 1978. In more recent years she has painted a series of works in which a rose is repeated as the central imagery of her painting, while the ground still remains a dominant field which the flower seems to bleed in and out of.

A rose is a poignant and laden emblem, but one so familiar as to seem almost kitsch. And yet the flower retains great beauty, the source of the symbolism which has gathered around it over the centuries. Green's rose, which moves from the colour of raw canvas to being flushed with red, seems to suggest love or love lost. And yet the repeated serial form is reduced to graphic essentials and is highly decorative; a trope for 'rose' rather than a depiction of an actual flower it is the opposite of a detailed still life painting. The schematic nature of the image adds to its effect as a symbol, and yet we remain unsure what it seeks to symbolise.

The juxtaposition of abstract painterly field and repeated flower form allows a freer flow of associations within the work whose meaning remains indeterminate. Repeated across three panels, the flower and painterly field seem as much an exercise in aesthetics as anything else, an accomplished dance between abstraction and decoration.


Place where the work was made

New York United States of America



Media category


Materials used

triptych: pencil, synthetic polymer paint, marble dust on canvas


dimensions variable :

a - left panel; 118 x 128 cm; stretcher

b - central panel; 131 x 154 cm; stretcher

c - right panel; 115.5 x 130 cm; stretcher

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Gift of John Dawson 2012. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Denise Green

Works in the collection



Where the work was made
New York

Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 1 publication


Denise Green, Metonymy in contemporary art: a new paradigm, Minneapolis, 2005.