A press release from Forbes Library
A Panel Exhibition from the Library of American Landscape History
Northampton, MA – The Forbes Library will host A Genius for Place: American Landscapes of the Country Place Era, a panel exhibition from the Library of American Landscape History, from September 30 through November 24 on the library’s Mezzanine level. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
A Genius for Place traces the development of an important movement in American landscape design through a selection of seven estate landscapes designed between 1905 and 1950.
In the mid-nineteenth century Frederick Law Olmsted, one of the designers of New York's Central Park, developed an approach to landscape design based on the principles of the English Picturesque that also emphasized a strong response to nature and scenery. After Olmsted's retirement at the close of the nineteenth century, these precepts continued to ground a new generation of American landscape architects even as a host of new stylistic influences emerged from England, France, Italy, and beyond. For the next four decades, a period known as the “country place era,” adventurous landscape architects experimented with the new style, resulting in designs of extraordinary inventiveness and vitality.
A Genius for Place presents photos of seven particularly significant estates from the period—Gwinn by Warren H. Manning, Charles A. Platt, and Ellen Shipman, Cleveland, Ohio; Stan Hywet by Warren H. Manning and Ellen Shipman, Akron, Ohio; Dumbarton Oaks by Beatrix Farrand, Washington, D.C.; Winterthur by Marian Coffin, Winterthur, Delaware; Ford House by Jens Jensen, Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan; Val Verde by Lockwood DeForest, Santa Barbara, California; and Naumkeag by Fletcher Steele, Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
A Genius for Place is a collaboration between Robin Karson, a landscape historian, and Carol Betsch, a landscape photographer. Karson studied hundreds of historical landscapes and selected seven to represent the chronological development of landscapes during the American country place era. Over the course of five years, she and Betsch captured views that would reveal and illuminate the designers’ intentions and express the spirit of each place.
Karson’s award-winning book of the same title has drawn wide praise. The London Telegraph identified it as the “most important book on American gardens for at least a decade.” An exhibition of original photographs specially commissioned for the book toured nationally from 2000 to 2012. The new panel version of the exhibition is suitable for libraries, botanical gardens, and university galleries.
Author and Photographer
Robin Karson’s published works include Fletcher Steele, Landscape Architect; The Muses of Gwinn; Pioneers of American Landscape Design (co-editor); A Genius for Place; and more than one hundred articles about American landscape design. She is the founding director of LALH.
Carol Betsch (b. 1948) has been a landscape photographer for more than thirty-five years. Her photographs appear in The Winterthur Garden; The Muses of Gwinn; The Gardens of Ellen Biddle Shipman; A Modern Arcadia; Silent City on a Hill; and other many books and articles about American landscape design. She is the managing editor of the University of Massachusetts Press.
About the Library of American Landscape History
The mission of LALH is to foster understanding of the fine art of landscape architecture and appreciation for North America’s richly varied landscape heritage through LALH books, exhibitions, and online resources.
Founded in 1992, LALH is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. For more information, visit www.lalh.org.