Lost and found: In 2013 we did some research concerning the conceptual art of hybridizing for the exhibition "(Landscape) with Flowers". One of the most prominent artist-plantsmen we found was the world famous photographer Edward Steichen. From 1908 until his death in 1973 he bred delphiniums, and he drew clear parallels between his approach to photography and to plant breeding.
On June 24, 1936, the exhibition titled “Edward Steichen’s Delphiniums” was opened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Just how unusual the show was can be gathered from the museum’s press release:
From this exhibition Steichen hoped to gain recognition for breeding plants as an art form—but was disappointed. Steichen’s demands of the art business remain without much consequence to this day. For him, flowers were central objects of aesthetic work, which involve questions of form every bit as much as their intensive preoccupation with light and color. He pursued plant breeding as an art form equal of photography, painting or literature, and he remains to be discovered as pioneer of BioArt.
In 1965 Steichen presented an entirely new variety of smaller delphinium—“a bush covered by blue butterflies.” He called this delphinium 'Connecticut Yankee', after Mark Twain’s novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and, released them with the wish "like our Mark Twain’s Connecticut Yankees, they are sure to turn up sooner or later in the land of King Arthur’s Court." Today, it is the only one of his breeds that is still available. While Steichen’s photographic works can be traded at high prices on the art market, today his 'Connecticut Yankee' variety can be had for around 2 dollars in a garden center—though without any mention of the artist.
We managed to get some seeds and to grow some beautiful plants that were presented in the exhibition. The photo shows the varity of colors, coming out of one package of seeds. Unfortunately now they are all gone.