Arranged Marriage

I am all the time bothered with the miserable nomenclature of L. A. Landscape is not a good word, Architecture is not; the combination is not — Gardening is worse. I want English names for ferme and village ornee, street. ornee — but ornee or decorated is not the idea, — it is artified and rural artified, which is not decorated merely. The art is not gardening nor is its architecture. What I am doing here in California especially is neither. It is sylvan art, fine art in distinction from Horticulture, Agriculture, or sylvan useful art. We want a distinction between a nurseryman or a market gardener or an orchardist, and an  artist; the planting of a street or road, the arrangement of village streets, is neither Landscape Art, nor Architectural Art, nor is it both together in my mind, — of course it is not, and it will never be in the popular mind. Then neither park nor garden, nor street, road, avenue, or drive, nor boulevard, apply to a sylvan bordered and artistically arranged system of roads, sidewalks and public places, —  playgrounds, parades, etc. (…)

If you are bound to establish this new art, you don’t want an old name for it. And for clearness, for convenience, for distinctness, you do need half a dozen technical words at least.

Frederick Law Olmsted, Letter to Calvert Vaux (1865)


Say it again: landscape architecture. The words roll off the tongue as if their union were inevitable. But this is an arranged marriage. Most landscape practitioners know the name doesn’t quite fit, though few give it further thought. If it hasn’t stopped the production of innovative work, they reason, where is the harm? The crucial question is whether the apparent alliance of landscape and architecture conceals other possibilities for how these two parties might relate to each other, and how they might relate to the world.

Brian Davis & Thomas Oles, From Architecture to Landscape (2014)


Grant Wood, American Gothic (1930)


Grant Wood, The Birthplace of Herbert Hoover (1931)

"Young Corn"

Grant Wood, Young Corn (1931)


Grant Wood, Stone City (1930)