“Ever since the first gardener chose to tend a plot of land not only to nourish the body but also to feed the soul, artists have found the garden – full of symbolic potential and favoured with its own expressive palette – to be a rich and varied source of inspiration.”
I was given The Garden in Art as a gift because it contains some of my favorite things: gardens, art history, and books. I think gardens are works of art to begin with, so this book is essentially art with the subject of art. I think it gives the movie Inception a run for its money.
It remains one of my favorite art books that I own, even after years of flipping through over 200 pages of beautiful pictures of art. This is a great book for me, as an art history lover, because whenever I hear of an artist that’s new to me, I can look in this book to see if it contains any of their work. All of the pieces also contain a couple paragraphs explaining the piece, the influences, the artist, or the history of the piece.
All of the art is beautiful, of course, but what I found interesting were things Mancoff included in the back of the book. She created a timeline of events that relate to the relationship between gardens and art. The first entry is dated to c. 3000 B.C. with, “An Old Kingdom relief sculpture depicts waterways and a palm in an enclosure. The sculpture is believed to be the oldest known representation of Egyptian domestic garden design.” The timeline ends in 2010 with information about an installation by Ai Weiwie. After the bibliography, there is a page titled “Gardens to Visit,” which gives the names of gardens in countries such as China, France, and the United States with their respective websites to look up information.
Every spring my love for this book revives, and this spring was no different. As an art history enthusiast, I think The Garden in Art is just a great book to have. It has served as a learning tool, as a reminder of great artists that I have forgot about, and, if you want, the beautiful cover makes an awesome casual decoration piece.