Sidewall, Beetle, 2016
Beetle is from the Fliepaper line of wallcoverings designed by Don Flood and produced by Astek Inc. The design consists of a rose chafer beetle, greatly magnified and repeated in diagonal rows. With a body length averaging only about 1/2 inch, rose chafer beetles can be extremely destructive as they feed primarily on the blossoms of roses and peonies, but also enjoy the foliage and fruit of numerous trees and shrubs. And the beetles contain a toxin that can be deadly to birds or small animals when eaten. So while rose chafers are not a friend of your garden their metallic green bodies can be quite attractive.
It was the beetles’ iridescent quality that fascinated Don Flood, who began experiments printing on Mylar to achieve this effect. The background is printed with an opaque white while the beetle is printed in transparent pigments that capture the light reflected off the Mylar foil ground.
Mylar is a reflective plastic material invented by DuPont in 1952, and by the late 1960s manufacturers were printing on Mylar to create wallcoverings. Mylar wallcoverings are again fashionable but most designs use the reflective surface in a different manner. Mylar wallcoverings of the 1960s played up the reflective quality of the foil with mirror-like surfaces, while most contemporary designs use Mylar in a more subtle fashion, revealing the Mylar in small bits to accent highlights or create metallic effects.
Insect motifs are found on some of the more exquisite wallcoverings going back to the eighteenth century including gilded embossed leathers, hand painted Chinese scenic papers, and French block prints. While the use of insects tends to be more symbolic on neoclassic designs, they were used to heighten the realism of floral designs in the nineteenth century. One of the first designers to make insects the central element of his designs was E.A. Séguy (French, 1890-1985) who created a series of ornamental patterns for textiles or wallpapers ca. 1927.
This design employs a creative use of Mylar and shows a boldness in its repetition of the large-scale rose chafer. Flood has turned his eye for glam to this humble beetle, capturing its inherent beauty and making one forget all about its destructive nature. This paper would build on the collection of contemporary American design and help form the foundation of wallpapers by photographers, begun in 2007 with the acquisition of a paper by German sculptor and photographer Thomas Demand.
It is credited
Gift of Astek Inc..
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Its dimensions are
L x W: 457.2 × 132.1 cm (15 ft. × 52 in.)
Cite this object as
Sidewall, Beetle, 2016; Designed by Don Flood (American, b. 1962); digital print on mylar; L x W: 457.2 × 132.1 cm (15 ft. × 52 in.); Gift of Astek Inc.; 2016-21-1
This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color.