Great Gardeners and Great Modern Artists

Great Gardeners and Great Modern Artists

Robert Tanitch reviews two books

LIVES OF THE GREAT GARDENERS by Stephen Anderton (Thames & Hudson £24.95).

The greatest gardens, a combination of imagination and determination, are works of art. This charming book, pleasantly illustrated, reminds me how much I have been missing.

There is so much to enjoy: William Kent’s magical Rougham in Oxfordshire and Elysian Fields in Stowe and Henry Hoare’s Stourhead in Wiltshire, the most famous landscape garden in the world.

American President Thomas Jefferson gave up politics to concentrate on gardening at Monticello.

I am bowled over by Charles Jencks intellectually absorbing Garden of Cosmic Delight, Andre le Norte’s exquisite, geometric, magnificent Vaux-le-Vicomte and Versailles and Lancelot Capability Brown’s idyllic landscapes on a grand and economical scale at Burleigh House, Blenheim Palace, Chatsworth, Croome Park etc.

Brazilian Roberto Burke Marx’s vigorous, vivacious, curvaceous, exuberant use of colour and foliage is a knock-out. The great French Impressionist painter Claude Monet’s Giverny, with its carefully contrived colour schemes, is a constant pleasure.

And that is just a taster. There are 40 gardeners all told from 13 countries. The text is easy and the old illustrations are a delight. Garden lovers will love it

ART SINCE 1900 Modernism Antimodernism Postmodernism (Thames & Hudson £48). A landmark study in the history of art, a comprehensive critical history of art in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries is now in its third edition. The authors are Hal Foster, Rosalind Krauss, Yve-Alain Bois, Benjamin H D Buchloh and David Joselit.

There are chapters on psychoanalysis, social history, formalism and structuralism, post structuralism and globalization.  With a year to year structure, the volume surveys synthetic cubism, avant-garde film, Brazilian modernism, post-modern architecture, Moscow conceptualism, queer art, South African photograph. Each introduction begins with an overview of the mode of criticism, setting it firmly in its historical and intellectual context.

The third heavy-weight edition has 100 new pages and 107 new illustrations. The images are great. If I were studying modern art I would want this amazing, monumental, authoritative and definitive work to be at immediate hand for reference.