Date of Lecture: 1994-04-08
Over the course of six years, photographers Robert Burley, Lee Friedlander and Geoffrey James photographed the work of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), the work commissioned by the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal. The resulting exhibition and publication Viewing Olmsted examined some of the parks, campuses, cemeteries and estates that Olmsted was responsible for creating. The three photographers photographed in 74 different locations over the duration of the commission, including Central Park in New York, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, the Arnold Arboretum, Boston, the Biltmore, North Carolina and Mount Royal, in Montreal. Enabled to return to the sites several times, during different seasons and over the course of years, the photographers were able to examine how Olmsted’s work changed through the year, and how it was daily affected by its visitors. This project led to the eventual creation of the CCA’s archive of some 940 photographs that not only provide numerous portraits of the work of Frederick Law Olmsted, but also facilitate a dialogue about the importance of landscape architecture in the urban setting.
Viewing Olmsted traveled to the Equitable Gallery, New York, the Wexner Centre for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio, the Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Mass and The Field Museum, Chicago.
Cynthia Zaitzevsky specializes in architectural and landscape history. She is a noted Olmsted scholar and the author of the book Frederick Law Olmsted and the Boston Park System (1982), the first book to provide detailed accounts of the design and construction of Boston’s “emerald necklace.” Zaitzevsky selected the 74 sites that are represented in Viewing Olmsted and was responsible for providing the photographers with documentation about each site. Zaitzevsky holds a Ph.D. from Harvard and is a faculty member in the Landscape Design Program at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University.
Image Courtesy of Harvard University Press.