Landscapes in Photomontage

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston just opened an exhibition called Composite Landscapes: Photomontage and Landscape Architecture, which features a dozen landscape architects and some major contemporary artists. The exhibit, which was curated by Charles Waldheim, Affiliate ASLA, chair of the landscape architecture department at Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD), focuses on one of landscape architecture’s most vital forms: the montage view, the piecing together of multiple separate views to form a deeper perspective. Waldheim believes that photomontage can help us understand the “conceptual, experiential, and temporal dimensions of landscapes.”

Waldheim, who is also Ruettgers Consulting Curator of Landscape at the museum, said: “The practice of montage, the overlay or superimposition of one image over another to produce a composite image, is as old as image making itself. Various forms of photomontage emerged as critical and conceptual tools across a range of the visual arts throughout the twentieth century.”

But while photomontage was once cutting-edge, it’s now an old-school art form, made “nearly obsolete due to the evolving digital world” — except perhaps among landscape architects, who have kept the practice alive. Waldheim writes: “the practice of photomontage … is arguably the field’s dominant visual paradigm today.” It may still be used because it’s “well suited to representing the temporal, phenomenal, and transformational aspects of landscape.”

One gallery will offer up views of photomontage works by contemporary artists David Hockney, Jan Dibbets, John Stezaker, and Superstudio, while another will look at the history of landscape montage from the 18th to the 20th centuries, with works by Humphry Repton, Booth Grey, and Charles Eliot.

The main gallery will feature works by landscape architects Adriaan Geuze, International ASLA, West 8; James Corner, ASLA, Field Operations; Gary Hilderbrand, FASLA, Reed Hilderbrand; Ken Smith, ASLA, Ken Smith Workshop; and Michael Van Valkenburgh, FASLA.

The exhibition is open until September 2, 2013. Learn more.

Image credits: (1) Mash XLVI by John Stezaker / Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, (2) Glass House Reflections II by Gary Hilderbrand, FASLA / Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

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