DryStoneGarden

Plants, Stone, California Landscapes

Flower

Oudolf Leku

A bonus from my visit to Chillida Leku was that the entrance sports a newish planting by Piet Oudolf. It immediately caught my eye as the first interesting planting I had seen in Spain, and I was thinking, well well well, who did this, it looks like an Oudolf planting. And of course it was an Oudolf planting, his style is unmistakable at this point. The planting beds gave him a bit less space to work with than the gardens I saw in the Netherlands — Vlinderhof, Singer Laren, and Rotterdam — but it had that same loose meadowy feel, and it was far and away the best planting I saw in Spain.

I think bloom color is usually not his first consideration, but the pink in the Echinacia, Stachys (I think?) and Filapendula seem clearly chosen to match the pink granite sculptures.

It’s a nice compliment to the sculptures. He has now done about a half dozen plantings at museums — Chillida Leku is owned by Hauser and Wirth who previously hired him for Durslade –which makes it verge on a specialty of his. This planting isn’t really integrated with the sculptures the way his planting is at Singer Laren and it doesn’t really contrast with his non-museum ones, but I wonder if there is anyone else who has done as many museum plantings as Oudolf. I can think of landscape architects who designed a few museum gardens in their careers, and maybe there is an analogue with the Zen or Japanese-style gardens that have been added to museums over the years, but this number of ornamental plantings seems pretty unique.

Chillida Leku Stone Scuptures

In Spain I visited Chillida Leku, the museum Eduardo Chillida developed to display his work. It’s great, a wonderful sculpture garden around a 16th century farmhouse and one of the best single-artist museum’s I’ve been to. Chillida is most famous for his work in steel, but he also did a lot of work in stone. The steel sculptures are great, but I’m mostly going to post photos of the stone and the farmhouse. Read the rest of this entry »

Spain and Portugal Drawings

This is my first blog post in a couple of years. I’ve spent the Covid years either working or hunkered down, and haven’t really felt motivated. This summer, though, I took my first significant trip in three years, riding a bicycle for six weeks in Portugal and Spain, and I got some of my blogging mojo back; Spain and Portugal are absolutely filled with subjects right in the drystonegarden wheelhouse. I expect to do at least a half dozen posts before my mojo runs out, and maybe I’ll keep going after that.
To start with, these are my drawings from the trip, almost one per day, loosely following my progress from Lisbon up through the interior of Portugal, then through the northern interior of Spain to Pamplona, then along Spain’s north coast loosely following the Camino de Santiago Norte to Santiago de Compostela, and then back down to Lisbon. It was a great trip, my third bike trip in Europe, and I can’t wait until my next one.
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Hallelujah

Bourgeois Spiders

So where were the spiders while the fly tried to break our balls? — Mike Pence David Bowie

Last summer I saw a collection of Louise Bourgeois’s spider sculptures in the gardens at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. I’d seen them before, indoors at the MOMA in San Francisco, but I liked them even better when I saw them outdoors set against the Rijskmuseum’s formal brick building and gardens. And I appreciate them even more now after drawing them; they’re quite varied, each one looks different from every angle, and the context around them can create a lot of interesting effects.

This one reminds me of a tree as much as a spider, as if Bourgeois or her fabricator had been snorkeling in a mangrove swamp.

But most of them have a strong metal spider vibe. H. R. Giger with a little bit of Tolkien thrown in, the Hobbit spiders rather than the scarier Lord of the Rings one.

Her largest and most famous spider is called ‘Maman’, which means ‘Mother’. It wasn’t at the Rijksmuseum; I haven’t seen it in person, but I’m a sucker for these kinds of installation videos with cranes and cherry pickers and shots of the lug bolts holding it all together. I’ve seen videos with her talking about the symbolism and ideation of it all, but I think underneath it all she just realized that big metal spiders would look cool. Very very cool.

Basalt Woodcuts

Possibly the last post from my Euro bike trip last summer, Kolumba Chapel and Museum in Cologne. I’d heard about Kolumba because Peter Zumthor designed the museum around a chapel that had itself been built around the ruins of a church that had been bombed during World War II, and that church had in turn been built over Roman ruins. So the layering is very cool, and Zumthor’s design is austere and graceful; it’s one of the more interesting structures I’ve ever seen, worth clicking through to see the photos in the link. The actual museum was underwhelming, though, especially after seeing Scarpa’s Castelvecchio a year earlier. The collection on display was way too subtle for my taste and I didn’t spent much time looking at it.

I spent a much longer time in the chapel studying the wall of sunken reliefs depicting the Stations of the Cross. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, or at least not at this scale or in basalt. I guess there are precedents: some of the sunken reliefs at Karnak; there’s a Henry Moore relief head from his school days; Eric Gill did a limestone relief version of Stations of the Cross. The closest things are probably the woodcuts by Emil Nolde and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and other Die Brucke artists. Schmidt-Rottluff’s Little Prophetess could be a figure in one of these scenes.

The artist is named Rudolf Peer but I don’t know anything about him and didn’t find any sign of him on the google. My taste is sometimes a bit niche, but to me this seems way too good to be a one-off by an unknown artist. If anyone knows about Rudolf Peer or has seen any of his other work, please tell me in the comments or by email. German primitivist woodcuts carved in basalt… awesome, please show me more.

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