- F. L. Olmsted
- Man And The Landscape
- Man's Influence Over Landscape
- Appreciation of Landscape Beauty
- Landscape Design As A Fine Art
- Qualities Peculiar to Landscape Compositions
- Importance of Utilizing Qualities Making for Unity
- Humanized Mode in Landscape Design
- Naturalistic Mode in Landscape Design
- Historic Styles in Landscape Design
- F. L. Olmsted
Qualities Peculiar to Landscape Compositions
In most of the fine arts the act of creative designing means the putting together or shaping of raw materials into a new kind of unity; as a painter assembles pigments and canvas into a picture, where no picture was before; as an architect creates a building where no building was before by assembling diverse materials which have not previously entered into the composition of a building. By contrast, the creations of landscape architecture — namely landscapes — are made by altering, adapting, or perfecting real landscapes existing in advance as such, much as an architect alters an old building to adapt it to new uses while respectfully conserving its fine qualities. The changes may be more or less radical, the new expression may be strikingly different from the old; but always the starting point is not merely a lot of separate raw materials for a landscape but an actual landscape of some sort, whether it possesses much or little of artistic quality worthy of preservation and development in the new landscape. The form of the ground may by its outline or by its vertical modelling, or both, suggest to the trained eye shapes which need only to be perfected and to be emphasized by the addition of suitable details or the elimination of unsuitable details, to become the chief elements of a very beautiful new landscape. The same may be true of any other element or elements of the original landscape, such as a portion of the existing local vegetation, or the gleam of water in a lake a mile away or a mountain on the distant sky line.
Even more often is it true that elements of the preexisting landscape which are beyond the practical control of the designer impose limitations upon the kinds of landscape which he can successfully produce by his changes; and a bumptious disregard of these limitations is responsible for many a wasteful failure. Always the surroundings, the underlying geological skeleton, the sky, and the climate remain — beyond control. And it is usually a reckless waster of landscape values who does not, with respectful modesty, save, cherish, and weave into the altered landscape with strengthened or altered emphasis, the characteristic qualities of these and other preexisting elements.
Alike for one who seeks only to increase his enjoyment of landscape as it is, and for one who essays to alter landscapes, the first and most important lesson is this one of alertly sensitive, respectful, clear-sighted appreciation of existing landscape qualities for which he can take no credit to himself. It calls for a much more self-subordinate attitude of mind than that of other artists, who aim at qualities to be produced by them with raw materials which they may choose from anywhere to fit their preconceived aim.
Closely akin to this is another fundamental fact of landscape art; that every landscape has parts which are also parts of other landscapes. For the landscape of the world is continuous, its elements regrouping into new unities as the beholder moves from place to place; so that each particular landscape must be considered in relation to its actual surroundings, like a mural painting as distinguished from an easel picture; and also not merely as seen from a single point of view, however dominantly important, but as seen by living people who move about and see as they go.
— Frederick Law Olmsted
- Man And The Landscape - No one but a prisoner in a windowless house can escape being influenced by the beauty or ugliness of his outdoor surroundings.
- Man's Influence Over Landscape - The appearance of the land and the objects upon it generally results from the control which man himself exerts over the materials and forces of nature just as truly and as completely as the sculptor controls the appearance of the natural stone which he shapes.
- Appreciation of Landscape Beauty - Rules, recipes, and arbitrary preconceptions, like that landscape slogan, reflecting a half-truth, "Avoid straight lines," are the resort of the lazy and the superficial in matters of landscape as in all branches of art.
- Landscape Design As A Fine Art - Landscape design may be regarded as the art of choosing wisely between any practical alternatives which present themselves to us in dealing with land and the objects upon it.
- Qualities Peculiar to Landscape Compositions - The creations of landscape architecture — namely landscapes — are made by altering, adapting, or perfecting real landscapes existing in advance as such, much as an architect alters an old building to adapt it to new uses while respectfully conserving its fine qualities.
- Importance of Utilizing Qualities Making for Unity - Since without unity there is no beauty but only distraction, it becomes peculiarly important to note other inherent qualities making for unity in landscapes.
- Humanized Mode in Landscape Design - The older, simpler, and more direct mode, the "humanized" mode, frankly appeals, as do most works of art, to the deep-rooted human pleasure in exhibitions of the skill and power of man, and in evidences of man's control over nature.
- Naturalistic Mode in Landscape Design - A simple example of the naturalistic is found in the treatment of a trail through a mountain wilderness, where the mere removal of obstructing vegetation may open beautiful landscapes.
- Historic Styles in Landscape Design - Several designs in the "grand manner," which extended influence over Europe, even into Russia, and were often carried to extremes by incompetent designers, invited, as we have seen, a reaction towards the naturalistic mode.
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