Practice: Author and Curator
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.
David Harris is an author, independent curator and photo historian living in Montreal who specializes in nineteenth-century and contemporary architectural and landscape photography. Harris was the Associate Curator of photography at the CCA in Montreal until 1996. Since then he has authored books on the photographic work of Gabor Szilasi, Felice Beato and Eugène Atget, as well as curating two of the accompanying exhibitions. His project, Paris Itineraries: Photographs by Eugène Atget (1999) originated at the Musée Carnavalet in Paris and traveled to the Museum of the City of New York and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. Harris is the recent recipient of a National Gallery of Canada Research Fellowship.