John Beardsley

John Beardsley

As Director of Garden and Landscape Studies at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, John Beardsley oversees a fellowship program, a lecture series, an annual symposium, a publications program, summer internships, and a series of installations of contemporary art in the institution’s historic gardens, as well as a new Mellon-funded initiative in urban landscape studies.  Recent publications include the edited volumes Landscape Body Dwelling: Charles Simonds at Dumbarton Oaks; and the proceedings of the 2010 symposium, Designing Wildlife Habitats and the 2013 symposium, Cultural Landscape Heritage in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Trained as an art historian, with an AB from Harvard and a PhD from the University of Virginia, he is the author of numerous books on contemporary art and design, including Earthworks and Beyond: Contemporary Art in the Landscape (fourth edition, 2006) and Gardens of Revelation: Environments by Visionary Artists (1995), as well as many titles on recent landscape architecture.  He has extensive experience as a curator for numerous museums, including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Among the exhibitions he has organized or co-organized are “Black Folk Art in America” (Corcoran Gallery of Art, 1982); “Hispanic Art in the United States” (MFAH, 1987); and "The Quilts of Gee's Bend" (MFAH and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2002). In 1997, he was curator of the visual arts project, "Human Nature: Art and Landscape in Charleston and the Low Country," for the Spoleto Festival U.S.A. in Charleston.

Beardsley has taught in departments of landscape architecture at the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University, where he was an adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Design from 1998 to 2013, teaching courses in landscape architectural history, theory, research, and writing. While at the GSD, he also co-organized the exhibitions “One Hundred Years of Landscape Architecture at Harvard” (2000) and "Dirty Work: Transforming the Landscape of Nonformal Cities in the Americas" (2008) which examined efforts to improve environmental conditions in low-income communities across Latin America.

Earthworks and Beyond

Contemporary Art in the Landscape

By

4th Edition

Updated and expanded to incorporate the most recent land art projects, Earthworks and Beyond (first published in 1984; 2nd edition, 1989; 3rd edition, 1998) is a perceptive and accessible survey of an influential art movement that developed during the 1960s and is still reshaping both remote and urban landscapes.

This invaluable volume now includes the most recent efforts by artists—often in collaboration with architects and city planners—to transform ravaged landscapes and desolate cityscapes into pleasure-giving parks and artworks. The book begins with an enlightening introduction tracing the historical roots of art in the landscape: Stonehenge, Indian mounds, cliff dwellings, park design from 18th-century England to modern-day golf courses. The opening chapter deals with such innovative artists as Robert Smithson, Nancy Holt, Walter De Maria, and Christo, who in the 1960s began to free their art from the confines of tradition by constructing monumental sculptures in the environment. The following chapters discuss their predecessors, peers, and successors, including Constantin Brancusi, Herbert Bayer, Richard Long, James Turrell, and many others.

The final four chapters (chapter 7 is entirely new) explore at length the increasing involvement of artists in land reclamation and urban design, featuring projects by Michael Heizer, Nancy Holt, Mel Chin, Maya Lin, and many others.

Read more

Gardens of Revelation

Environments by Visionary Artists

By

This lively international tour spans from the soaring spires of Watts towers in Los Angeles to the spirit-lifting Camel Yard and Owl House in New Bethesda, South Africa. 

With incisive intelligence and beguiling prose, John Beardsley tells the story of some twenty-five "visionary environments" and the fiercely independent individuals who created them. Beardsley also situates the work in the larger contexts of traditional garden design, religious architecture, environmental sculpture, and folk art. The thought-provoking text combines with dazzling views of the far-flung gardens to make this an inspiring volume.

 

Read more