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La Villa

Bartolomeo Taegio. Edited and Translated by Thomas E. Beck

Published in 1559 and appearing here for the first time in English, La Villa is a rare source of Renaissance landscape theory. Written by Bartolomeo Taegio, a Milanese jurist and man of letters, after his banishment (possibly for murder, Thomas E. Beck speculates), the text takes the form of a dialogue between two gentlemen, one a proponent of the country, the other of the city. While it is not a gardening treatise, La Villa reflects an aesthetic appreciation of the land in the Renaissance, reveals the symbolic and metaphorical significance of sixteenth-century gardens for their owners, and articulates a specific philosophy about the interaction of nature and culture in the garden.

This edition of the original Italian text and Beck's English translation is augmented with notes in which Beck identifies numerous references to literary sources in La Villa and more than 280 people and places mentioned in the dialogue. The introduction illuminates Taegio's life and intellectual activity, his obligations to his sources, the cultural context, and the place of La Villa in Renaissance villa literature. It also demonstrates the enduring relevance of La Villa for architecture and landscape architecture. La Villa makes a valuable contribution to the body of literature about place-making, precisely because it treats the villa as an idea and not as a building type.

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Landscape and Images

John R. Stilgoe

John Stilgoe is just looking around. This is more difficult than it sounds, particularly in our mediated age, when advances in both theory and technology too often seek to replace the visual evidence before our own eyes rather than complement it. We are surrounded by landscapes charged with our past, and yet from our earliest schooldays we are instructed not to stare out the window. Someone who stops to look isn’t only a rarity; he or she is suspect.

Landscape and Images records a lifetime spent observing America’s constructed landscapes. Stilgoe’s essays follow the eclectic trains of thought that have resulted from his observation, from the postcard preference for sunsets over sunrises to the concept of "teen geography" to the unwillingness of Americans to walk up and down stairs. In Stilgoe's hands, the subject of jack o’ lanterns becomes an occasion to explore centuries-old concepts of boundaries and trespassing, and to examine why this originally pagan symbol has persisted into our own age. Even something as mundane as putting the cat out before going to bed is traced back to fears of unwatched animals and an untended frontier fireplace. Stilgoe ponders the forgotten connections between politics and painted landscapes and asks why a country whose vast majority lives less than a hundred miles from a coast nonetheless looks to the rural Midwest for the classic image of itself.

At times breathtaking in their erudition, the essays collected here are as meticulously researched as they are elegantly written. Stilgoe’s observations speak to specialists—whether they be artists, historians, or environmental designers—as well as to the common reader. Our landscapes constitute a fascinating history of accident and intent. The proof, says Stilgoe, is all around us.

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Landscape and Society in Contemporary Ireland

by Brendan McGrath

This book is both about exceptional Irish landscapes like the Burren and also the everyday landscape experience in Ireland. The aim of the book is to give an account of contemporary Irish landscape and to describe and explain how it has changed over the last forty years and how it continues to change

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Landscape Journal: design, planning, and management of the land

Vol. 30 (2011) through current issue

The mission of landscape architecture is supported by research and theory in many fields. Landscape Journal offers in-depth exploration of ideas and challenges that are central to contemporary design, planning, and teaching. Besides scholarly features, Landscape Journal also includes editorial columns, creative work, reviews of books, conferences, technology, and exhibitions Landscape Journal digs deeper into the field by providing articles from:

  • landscape architects
  • geographers
  • architects
  • planners
  • artists
  • historians
  • ecologists
  • poets

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Landscapes of Exclusion

State Parks and Jim Crow in the American South

William E. O'Brien

During the 1930s, the state park movement and the National Park Service expanded public access to scenic American places, especially during the era of the New Deal. However, under severe Jim Crow restrictions in the South, African Americans were routinely and officially denied entrance to these supposedly shared sites. In response, advocacy groups pressured the National Park Service to provide some facilities for African Americans. William O’Brien shows that these parks were typically substandard in relation to “whites only” areas. As the NAACP filed federal lawsuits that demanded park integration and increased pressure on park officials, southern park agencies reacted with attempts to expand segregated facilities, hoping they could demonstrate that these parks achieved the “separate but equal” standard. But the courts consistently ruled in favor of integration, leading to the end of segregated state parks by the middle of the 1960s. Even though the stories behind these largely inferior facilities faded from public awareness, the imprint of segregated state park design remains visible throughout the South. O’Brien illuminates this untold facet of Jim Crow history in the first-ever study of segregation in southern state parks. His new book underscores the profound inequality that persisted for decades in the number, size, and quality of state parks provided for black visitors in the Jim Crow South.

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Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer

A Landscape Critic in the Gilded Age

Judith K. Major

Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer (1851–1934) was one of the premier figures in landscape writing and design at the turn of the twentieth century, a moment when the amateur pursuit of gardening and the increasingly professionalized landscape design field were beginning to diverge. This intellectual biography—the first in-depth study of the versatile critic and author—reveals Van Rensselaer’s vital role in this moment in the history of landscape architecture.

Van Rensselaer was one of the new breed of American art and architecture critics, closely examining the nature of her profession and bringing a disciplined scholarship to the craft. She considered herself a professional, leading the effort among women in the Gilded Age to claim the titles of artist, architect, critic, historian, and journalist. Thanks to the resources of her wealthy mercantile family, she had been given a sophisticated European education almost unheard of for a woman of her time. Her close relationship with Frederick Law Olmsted influenced her ideas on landscape gardening, and her interest in botany and geology shaped the ideas upon which her philosophy and art criticism were based. She also studied the works of Charles Darwin, Alexander von Humboldt, Henry David Thoreau, and many other nineteenth-century scientists and nature writers, which influenced her general belief in the relationship between science and the imagination.

Her cosmopolitan education and elevated social status gave her, much like her contemporary Edith Wharton, access to the homes and gardens of the upper classes. This allowed her to mingle with authors, artists, and affluent patrons of the arts and enabled her to write with familiarity about architecture and landscape design. Identifying over 330 previously unattributed editorials and unsigned articles authored by Van Rensselaer in the influential journal Garden and Forest—for which she was the sole female editorial voice—Judith Major offers insight into her ideas about the importance of botanical nomenclature, the similarities between landscape gardening and idealist painting, design in nature, and many other significant topics. Major’s critical examination of Van Rensselaer’s life and writings—which also includes selections from her correspondence—details not only her influential role in the creation of landscape architecture as a discipline but also her contribution to a broader public understanding of the arts in America.

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The Monster in the Garden

The Grotesque and the Gigantic in Renaissance Landscape Design

By Luke Morgan

Monsters, grotesque creatures, and giants were frequently depicted in Italian Renaissance landscape design, yet they have rarely been studied. Their ubiquity indicates that gardens of the period conveyed darker, more disturbing themes than has been acknowledged.

In The Monster in the Garden, Luke Morgan argues that the monster is a key figure in Renaissance culture. Monsters were ciphers for contemporary anxieties about normative social life and identity. Drawing on sixteenth-century medical, legal, and scientific texts, as well as recent scholarship on monstrosity, abnormality, and difference in early modern Europe, he considers the garden within a broader framework of inquiry. Developing a new conceptual model of Renaissance landscape design, Morgan argues that the presence of monsters was not incidental but an essential feature of the experience of gardens.

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The Native Landscape Reader

edited by Robert E. Grese

In this volume Robert E. Grese gathers together writings on nature-based landscape design and conservation by some of the country’s most significant practitioners, horticulturalists, botanists, and conservationists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Written with a strong conservation ethic, these essays often originally appeared in obscure, short-lived publications and are difficult to locate today, comprising a rich but hidden literature. Over many years of pioneering research into the work of Jens Jensen, O. C. Simonds, and other early landscape architects who advocated for the use of native plants and conservation, Grese encountered and began collecting these pieces. With this volume, he offers readers his trove. Purposely avoiding literature that is widely available, Grese shares as well his experience of discovery. His introduction provides perspective on the context of these writings and the principles they espouse, and his conclusion illuminates their relevance today with the emerging emphasis on sustainable design. This collection will appeal to general readers interested in the issues of sustainability, horticulture and gardening, and landscape design and preservation, as well as to historians, practitioners, and specialists.

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Of Gardens

Selected Essays

By Paula Deitz

Paula Deitz has delighted readers for more than thirty years with her vivid descriptions of both famous and hidden landscapes. Her writings allow readers to share in the experience of her extensive travels, from the waterways of Britain's Castle Howard to the Japanese gardens of Kyoto, and home again to New York City's Central Park. Collected for the first time, the essays in Of Gardens record her great adventure of continual discovery, not only of the artful beauty of individual gardens but also of the intellectual and historical threads that weave them into patterns of civilization, from the modest garden for family subsistence to major urban developments. Deitz's essays describe how people, over many centuries and in many lands, have expressed their originality by devoting themselves to cultivation and conservation.

During a visit to the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden in Seal Harbor, Maine, Deitz first came to appreciate the notion that landscape architecture can be as intricately conceived as any major structure and is, indeed, the means by which we redeem the natural environment through design. Years later, as she wandered through the gardens of Versailles, she realized that because gardens give structure without confinement, they encourage a liberation of movement and thought. In Of Gardens, we follow Deitz down paths of revelation, viewing "A Bouquet of British Parks: Liverpool, Edinburgh, and London"; the parks and promenades of Jerusalem; the Moonlight Garden of the Taj Mahal; a Tuscan-style villa in southern California; and the rooftop garden at Tokyo's Mori Center, among many other sites.

Deitz covers individual landscape architects and designers, including André Le Nôtre, Frederick Law Olmsted, Beatrix Farrand, Russell Page, and Michael Van Valkenburgh. She then features an array of parks, public places, and gardens before turning her attention to the burgeoning business of flower shows. The volume concludes with a memorable poetic epilogue entitled "A Winter Garden of Yellow."

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Paradise Lost

The Imperial Garden Yuanming Yuan

Young-Tsu Wong

Noted for its magnificent architecture and extraordinary history, the Yuanming Yuan is China's most famous imperial garden. The complex was begun in the early eighteenth century, and construction continued over the next 150 years. While Chinese historians, and many Chinese in general, view the garden as the paramount achievement of Chinese architecture and landscape design, almost nothing is known about the Yuanming Yuan in the West. A Paradise Lost is the first comprehensive study of the palatial garden complex in a Western language. Written in a broad and engaging style, Young-tsu Wong brings "the garden of perfect brightness" to life as he leads readers on a grand tour of its architecture and history. Wong begins by inspecting the garden's physical appearance and its architectural elements. He discusses the origin and evolution of these structures and the aesthetics of their design and arrangement. Throughout he refers to maps and original models of individual buildings and other existing gardens of the Ming-Qing period, including the well-preserved Yihe Yuan and the Chengde Summer Mountain Retreat in Rehe. A special feature of the book is its exploration of the activities and daily life of the royal household.

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