This week's Artist of the Week is Charles Jencks! According to his Wikipedia, "is an American architectural theorist, landscape architect and designer. His books on the history and criticism of Modernism and Postmodernism are widely read in architectural circles. Jencks now lives in Scotland where he designs landscape sculpture and writes on cosmogenic art."
The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, begun in 1988, was dedicated to Jencks' late wife Maggie Keswick. The garden has such a name because Jencks, Keswick, scientists, and their friends designed the garden based on natural and scientific processes. Jencks goal was to celebrate nature, but he also incorporated elements from the modern sciences into the design. The garden contains a species of plants that are pleasurable to the eye, as well as edible. With a ‘century of extraordinary discovery in biology’ like evolution and deoxyribonucleic acid also known as DNA, and cosmology, this has given birth to a new type of garden design [Cosmic]’. Preserving paths and the traditional beauty of the garden is still his concern, but Jencks enhances the cosmic landscape using new tools and artificial materials. Just as Japanese Zen gardens, Persian paradise gardens, the English and French Renaissance gardens were analogies of the universe, the design represents the cosmic and cultural evolution of the contemporary world. The garden is a microcosm - as one walks through the gardens they experience the universe in miniature. According to Jencks, gardens are also autobiographical because they reveal the happiest moments, the tragedies, and the truths of the owner and family.
"As he says, "To see the world in a Grain of Sand, the poetic insight of William Blake, is to find relationships between the big and small, science and spirituality, the universe and the landscape. This cosmic setting provides the narrative for my content-driven work, the writing and design. I explore metaphors that underlie both growing nature and the laws of nature, parallels that root us personally in the cosmos as firmly as a plant, even while our mind escapes this home.""
One of his creations is the "The Universe Cascade. It has 25 landings that mark the important shifts in cosmic history. Starting at the top, in the present day, and descending down, visitors are moving through 13 billion years of cosmic evolution. The steps finally disappear into the dark water below, which represents the mystery of the origin of the universe." according to the Modern Met Blog.
For more information on Charles Jencks, check out his personal website! http://www.charlesjencks.com/
And check out this blog about him from the Met! http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/charles-jencks-mind-bending-landscape-architecture
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Thanks again and have a great week!
- The UTIES Committee