"jungle dreaming of civilisation"
Central Park, New York City
A friend of mine told me about an appointment with a landscape architect today, which set my mind off wandering, coming to rest at a vague memory of an article about the architect who designed Central Park in New York that I read many months ago.
A little Googling, and voila, the New York Times article I read appeared, along with the beautiful photos that left such an indelible mark on me.
The work of Frederick Law Olmsted, the pioneering American landscape architect, is beautiful, simply elegant but unstylised; there's a certain untidiness and lushness that make some of the more manicured parks of the world look incredibly prissy. He championed a kind a sense of naturalness to his parks, which I suppose, ironic, since city parks are artificial constructs, no matter what. But there is no sense of him trying to impose order on greenery - his is a sure, but light touch.
I think Lee Friedlander's photographs (above) of Mr Olmsted's work capture this spirit perfectly, and it is fitting that in the 150th anniversary of Central Park that Mr Friedlander's visual representations of Mr Olmsted's work is the subject of an exhibition at Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
An excerpt from the NYT article -
"In the early 1980s the photographer Lee Friedlander, best known for his relentless exploration of the American vernacular — nowhere street scenes, spectral television sets, caustic self-portraits — began to develop his own interest in Olmsted, photographing Central Park as part of a growing body of landscape work. In 1988, commissioned by the Canadian Center for Architecture in Montreal, Mr. Friedlander started digging even more deeply into Olmsted, photographing his parks around the country for six years and then continuing to shoot them even after the project ended."
It's coming together of two artists. Read the rest of the article here, and click on the slideshow and be entranced. It's another exhibit I wished I could attend, followed by a ramble through Central Park.
Niagara Falls State Park, Niagara Falls, New York
Photos by Lee Friedlander taken from http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/01/02/arts/20070103_LEEFRIEDLANDER_SLIDESHOW_index.html