|Mediterranean Garden Society|
The evolving modern landscape: legacies of the Getty and the Gulbenkian
by Ann Semaan Beisch
Photographs to illustrate the article published in The Mediterranean Garden No. 92, April 2018
In her article Ann Beisch analyses and compares two iconic museum gardens from the twentieth century.
Walking through the upper part of the Irwin garden, known as the “stream garden”, one descends a gentle slope, on a path zigzagging above a stream of water that rushes over tile stones carefully laid in a repeated rectangular pattern that is fascinating to observe. The planting here consists of low-growing grasses, succulents and small trees ...
Sloping lawns on either side welcome visitors to stop and rest. The walkway leads down to a gravel terrace and an overview of the lower garden, the “bowl garden”. Its bowl captures the water cascading over a stone wall deep into the pool of azalea mazes (Kurume azaleas). This “bowl garden” is surrounded by its own paths that circle around the lower pool which is often visited by migrating ducks. The terrace is shaded by huge structures made of rebar rods and dense with colourful bougainvilleas (Bougainvillea spectabilis).
… I walked through dense vegetation that conceals and protects the beautifully situated pond west of the Gulbenkian amphitheatre, up against the Auditorium with its huge windows overlooking the water.
A most striking element of a walk through this public space is the relationship between the stark, impressive mid-century modern Foundation buildings and the groves of trees that encapsulate the whole space.
Ann concludes: The Getty Center and the Gulbenkian are prime examples of the mid-century modern and its evolution into the post-modern landscape as developed in the Getty’s Central Garden. They are artificial landscapes built above extensive infrastructures of buildings and parking lot spaces. Both the Getty and the Gulbenkian have made an impact on their respective cities’ cultural, architectural and landscape profile, reflecting a restrained modernism on a grand but functional scale and providing an urban space for art, the performing arts, study, fine art restoration and landscapes that change the way we think of gardens. These men, Getty and Gulbenkian, succeeded in defining their legacies by having spaces created that open the door to everyone to enjoy the beauty of art and nature in their names.