GREATER PERFECTIONS, THE PRACTICE OF GARDEN THEORY.
John Dixon Hunt, the noted garden historian, disparages landscape architects for pragmatically lacking a theoretical basis for design. He states: 'Landscape architecture is unable to understand the principles of its own practice as an art of place-making'. As may be expected from Dixon Hunt, Greater Perfections, the Practice of Garden Theory is a dense all-inclusive scholarly discourse drawing on a depth of historical literature on gardens, philosophy and art, from distant past ages to the now, from East to West, revealing theories and insights applicable to the present. It includes roles for fiction, time/poetry, narrative, abstract representation, symbolism, feelings, visitor interactive response, maintenance and a recent steady movement towards the natural, ending with a chapter on new practice.
This book includes a wealth of illustrations, many from original manuscripts juxtaposed interestingly with contemporary designs and existing landscapes. He extrapolates from well and lesser-known sources including Cicero, Pliny, John Evelyn, Beale, Taegios, Hartlib, Repton, Walpole, Foucault, Adriaan Geuze, Martha Schwartz and Bernard Lassus, to argue that gardens though considered a 'lesser art', if studied carefully, provide conceptual and theoretical lessons which will vastly improve the practice of contemporary landscape architects. One of the major themes is that of the 'three natures': wilderness (the savage state); the agrarian/urban (human intervention on the land); and garden art (cultural intervention) in imbuing meaning when placed within the boundary (the frame). 'Representation ... is a recurring and crucial strategy in place-making from Babylon to Bercy'.
As series editor for Penn Landscape Studies, Dixon Hunt can be credited with spearheading publication of a number of critical new works on a growing body of landscape theory of which Greater Perfections is one. It provides a rich resource for academics, students, and those professionals interested in pursuing the structuring of conceptual ideas.
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|Title Annotation:||University of Pennsylvania Press|
|Publication:||The Architectural Review|
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||Aug 1, 2001|
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