Cover image for Robert Irwin Getty garden
Robert Irwin Getty garden
Weschler, Lawrence.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Los Angeles : J. Paul Getty Museum, [2002]

Physical Description:
174 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 29 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
SB466.U7 G488 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

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In the early 1990s the design and creation of the Central Garden at the Getty Center were entrusted to the distinguished contemporary visual artist Robert Irwin. Irwin-a member of California's "light and space" movement-was an unexpected choice for this major commission, and his work has aroused intense interest in the art world and among gardening enthusiasts and visitors to the Getty Center. In Robert Irwin Getty Garden, Lawrence Weschler offers a lively account of the creation of what Irwin has playfully termed "a sculpture in the form of a garden aspiring to be art." Weschler's narrative is followed by a transcript of conversations in which he and Irwin, in a series of walks through the garden, discuss in detail the decisions, both philosophical and practical, that shaped the making of this major art work in Southern California. The book contains more than one hundred color illustrations, many of them specially commissioned from photographer Becky Cohen. The photographs capture the stunning variety of colors and textures of the plant forms selected by Irwin. They also reveal the care and precision that went into the creation of each element of the garden environment, from the handrails and lighting fixtures to the huge azalea rings and waterfall that make a visit to the Getty Central Garden an unusually thought-provoking experience.
Robert Irwin has exhibited widely in galleries and museums in North America and abroad.

Author Notes

Lawrence Weschler teaches at Columbia University and Sarah Lawrence College and has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1981. His ten books include Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: A Life of Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin and Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder. Becky Cohen is an artist/photographer.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder, Weschler took readers through the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City, where some of the exhibits are hoaxes. None of the horticulture of the Central Garden of the Getty Center in Los Angeles is fake, and it is intelligently designed to be incomparably beautiful. This paean to the garden's conception and execution by designer Robert Irwin presents an introductory essay by Weschler (a shorter version appeared in the New Yorker in 1997), and a long, dialectical walk through the grounds with the two men. Their conversation is illustrated by landscape photographer Cohen's 166 color and 38 black-and-white shots, capturing the garden at various stages of construction and throughout the seasons. Begun in 1992, the project blossomed to 134,000 square feet by the time the museum opened in late 1997, and includes 300 plant varieties. Some of Cohen's photos are spectacular, revealing the gentle curves of green formed by Irwin's hedge work, or explosive blossoms. Some shots, however, are cropped in a manner that fails to best highlight the garden's elements, and a few reproductions are dull. That Weschler and Irwin's dialogue retains all the mundanities of spoken exchange ("Irwin: ...what do you call those things in the center? I've forgotten. Weschler: The pistils. Irwin: Yeah, the pistils. And now, over here...") can make the going a little tedious, but this is a high-end walk that design heads and Weschler fans will find a glorious airing. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Spectacular, stunning, breathtaking-it's the only way to describe artist Robert Irwin's fantastic gardens at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. This book provides a generous helping of photographs by Cohen, Alfred Eisenstaedt Awards 2000 winner, showing the many moods of this locale, from botanical close-ups to striking panoramas. The text married to these images is most appropriate. First, there is an essay that originally appeared in The New Yorker in 1997, tying the creation of the gardens to Richard Meier and his architectural handiwork for a Californian hillside. The rest of the book is an intimate dialog between Weschler, a New Yorker staff writer, and Irwin, which is based on walks in and around the Getty landscape. The text is physically interspersed in the book among and around Cohen's images, giving the reader a nice visual context. Altogether, a delicious combination of insight and imagery; highly recommended for academic and public libraries with collections dedicated to gardening and landscape architecture.-Edward J. Valauskas, Lib. & Plant Information Office, Chicago Botanic Garden (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.