Exhibition Traces 400 Years Of European And American Gardens Through Prints, Drawings, Paintings, And Photographs

Opens At Stanford June 11, 2003, Tours Through May 2004

Stanford, CA, March 28, 2003—The Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center at Stanford University announces an exhibition, to open June 11, that examines the garden as an enduring and evolving cultural resource. The Changing Garden: Four Centuries of European and American Art traces the changing aesthetics and uses of gardens of the 16th to 21st century, from Italian villas of the powerful Medici family and the royal showcase of Louis XIV at Versailles to New York City's Central Park and San Francisco's Crissy Field. Curator Besty G. Fryberger organized the exhibition and its catalogue, which are dedicated to the late San Francisco philanthropist Dr. A. Jess Shenson for his enduring support of the Cantor Arts Center and Stanford University.

The Changing Garden presents nearly 200 works—prints, drawings, paintings, and photographs—by more than 100 artists. The exhibition includes great names from art history, such as Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Camille Pissarro, Maurice Prendergast, John Singer Sargent, James McNeill Whistler, George Bellows, John Sloan, and Eugène Atget. Pieces by the 18th-century painter and designer of gardens Hubert Robert, as well as anonymous and previously unpublished prints and photographs are of special interest. Artworks by Claes Oldenburg, Bruce Davidson, and Michael Kenna bring the exhibition up to date. Admission to the exhibition and the Cantor Arts Center is free.

The Changing Garden, accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, will be on view through September 7, 2003, at Stanford University. The exhibition will then travel to the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis, Tennessee, and the University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, Michigan. The exhibition and catalogue are organized in three parts. The first examines design concepts and individual garden features; the second highlights historic gardens and public parks; and the third section focuses on activities in garden settings.

Artists have depicted gardens in many ways. Stefano della Bella (1610–1664) and Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778) created prints of gardens and garden features, as well as the festivities that took place in those settings by their proud owners. Not all artists, however, were concerned with presenting views of mansion and garden. Thomas Rowlandson (1756–1827) focused on the behavior of garden visitors in his satire of an animated gathering in London's Vauxhall Gardens.

By the late 19th century, Charles Marville (1816–c. 1878) and Eugène Atget (1857–1927) took pictures of Parisian gardens and parks using the new technology of photography. During this period, Camille Pissarro (1830–1903) continued to paint the Tuileries Gardens, while Maurice Prendergast (1858–1924), John Singer Sargent (1856–1925), and James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903) portrayed scenes of sociability in the Luxembourg Gardens.

At the dawn of the 20th century, women emerged as independent and influential figures in garden design. Sketches and plans by Gertrude Jekyll (1843–1932) and Beatrix Farrand (1872–1959) are included in the show. American realists such as George Bellows (1882–1925), William Glackens (1870–1938), and John Sloan (1871–1951) captured the increasing importance of parks as democratic spaces by showing everyday people enjoying themselves in New York. City's public parks. Contemporary photographer Bruce Davidson (b. 1933) brings the exhibition to its logical conclusion by showing a diverse racial and ethnic population, homeless people, children, and seniors in Central Park.

The exhibition and catalogue have been made possible by the late Dr. A. Jess Shenson and an anonymous donor, with additional support from the Ducommun and Gross Family Foundation. Oak Creek Apartments supported student research for this exhibition.

The catalogue, with more than 200 illustrations, many in color, is co-published by the Cantor Arts Center and the University of California Press. The catalogue includes six essays: Cantor Arts Center Curator of Prints and Drawings Betsy G. Fryberger, organizer of the exhibition, writes about the representation of gardens in European and American art; Claudia Lazzaro describes Italian 17th-century garden views; Elizabeth S. Eustis discusses the role of prints as propaganda under Louis XIV; Diana Ketcham explores late-18th-century French gardens; Carol M. Osborne portrays gardens as social settings for late 19th- and early 20th-century American artists; and Paula Dietz relates how George Hargreaves recently converted urban spaces into public parks in the Bay Area.

A contemporary native plant garden with sculpted terrain, designed by New York artist Meg Webster, has been commissioned to celebrate the opening of this exhibition. The garden, which faces the Cantor Arts Center and Rodin Sculpture Garden, opens this spring and becomes a permanent feature of the Stanford campus. Additional information about the artist can be found at www.megwebster.com.

Docents will give free tours of The Changing Garden on Thursdays at 12:15 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. throughout the exhibition at Stanford. Special tours of several Stanford gardens, including the new garden, will also be led by docents on the second and fourth Sundays of each month throughout the exhibition, at 3 p.m., free. No reservation is needed for either tour. Groups of 10 or more should call 650-723-3469 to schedule private tours. Concerts, dance performances, films, studio classes, and other programs are being offered. For program information, call 650-725-3155.

California Garden: Select List of Native Plants

Native_gardenGarden designed by Meg Webster, 2003