cover

TUSCANY ARTISTS GARDENS

MARIELLA SGARAVATTI
Photographs by MARIO CIAMPI

HARDCOVER / 240 pages
9-5/8 x 11-1/2 inches / 24.5 x 30 cm
230 color illustrations
ISBN-13: 978-0-9544288-2-2

US $ 60

IN STOCK

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DESCRIPTION

A companion volume to Tuscany Artists Homes, Tuscany Artists Gardens presents thirty gardens created by contemporary artists who have settled in Tuscany, and who have applied their artistic sensitivities to their surroundings in unusual and distinctive ways. Each artist’s work reflects, even if unconsciously, a continuity with Tuscan traditions while bringing to bear their own cultural heritage and artistic vision. The gardens take many different forms, from majestic, formally designed acres punctuated with sculpture to tiny, intimate spaces that have colors of every imaginable hue. Daniel Spoerri has used the landscape as a dramatic backdrop for great new works of art scattered along a botanic trail. Niki de Saint Phalle’s extraordinary Tarot Garden houses twenty-two polychromatic sculptures representing the major arcana of the Tarot, while in Fernando Botero’s Garden for the Goddess of Fertility, monumental bronze figures loom out of the trees. Mariella Sgaravatti’s essays offer telling insights into the artists’ motivations, and explore the ways in which their work is intrinsically connected to the magical beauty of the Tuscan landscape. The descriptions and images of the gardens found in this volume are a useful and original source of inspiration for anyone working in the field.

AUTHOR

author

MARIELLA SGARAVATTI was born in Padua, Italy and studied architecture in Florence where she graduated with a specialization in landscape architecture. She has done freelance work designing gardens and she is currently active in gardening congresses and conventions. Her published works include Le passiflore and Le clematidi, both published by Calderini in Italy, and Tuscany Artists Gardens and Tuscany Artists Homes both published by Verba Volant.

author

MARIO CIAMPI has been an architectural photographer for more than twenty-five years and his work has appeared in numerous magazines worldwide, and in particular, Casa Vogue and Architectural Digest

REVIEWS

review

9/1/2005

I Viaggi di Repubblica

Tuscany Artists Gardens
Mario Ciampi, fotografo d’architettura, ha raccolto alcune foto che rappresentano le relazioni che si instaurano inevitabilmente tra gli artisti che vivono in Toscana e questa meravigliosa regione. Questi artisti hanno infatti espresso la loro arte all’interno dei giardini (spesso delle loro abitazioni), luogo che unisce la loro visione artistica al paesaggio e alla storia dei luoghi in cui vivono. Alcuni giardini sono punteggiati di sculture, in altri la natura sembra prendere il sopravvento e in altri ancora il colore e la pietra si sostituiscono al verde per creare un paesaggio artificiale.

review

4/1/2005

Town & Country

You don’t have to be a member of the Ferragamo family to enjoy Tuscany’s glorious hills, valleys and vineyards. The region has long enticed artists from around the world to take up residence. And just as the Tuscan terrain affects the art they create there, so too do these artists affect the land they’ve adopted. In Tuscany Artists Gardens (Verba Volant; $60), author Mariella Sgaravatti seeks, as she explains in her introduction, “to discover the connection between the artwork and the magic of the Tuscan landscape.” With 230 lush photographs by Mario Ciampi, the book covers twenty-five gardens, from Fernando Botero’s sun drenched terraced beds on a hill above Pietrasanta to the late Niki de Saint-Phalle’s Gaudi-inspired Tarot Garden in Garavicchio. (Andrew Sessa)

review

3/1/2005

Gardens Illustrated

Who hasn’t dreamt of being an artist and making a garden in Tuscany? From the outset the book appeals to a wide readership: the garden enthusiast, art lover, and the foreigner smitten with Tuscany. Many of the 30 gardens presented belong to expatriates who for over 200 years have been putting down roots in this corner of Italy. My problem with this book began with the title. What is it about? Indeed the book touches on all three themes Tuscany, Artists and Gardens, but doesn’t tie them together cohesively or develop any of them in depth. It includes some well-known art gardens, some garden by well known artists, some gardens by obscure artists and some that are just obscure. Several great names stand out, Sandro Chia painter and sculptor, and Ian Hamilton Finlay, for example. “Il Riposo dei Vescovi” is evocative, but scarcely contemporary. This gracefully aging villa garden was created by a Dutch collector of Far-eastern art in the early 20th century. Mariella Sgaravatti’s eclectic bouquet also includes the Tarot Garden by French artists Niki de Saint Phalle. Poking fun at tastefully somber Tuscan, its enormous sculptures twinkle with colored tiles and mirrors. Art in the garden has a long history, traditionally in grand country residences such as Villa Celle. The park of Villa Celle is one of the best examples of land art in Europe and is given due relevance but it has a high art context and rich patronage that most other gardens cannot match. Mariella Sgaravatti should be thanked for bringing to our attention many rural gardens without the pedigree of a villa. They are attached to case coloniche once modest dwellings of tenant farmers who had little space or time to devote to decorative gardening. Agriculture, not horticulture, sets the scene. An international cast of characters rises to the challenge presented by the rural setting and the text quotes extensively their personal experiences of carving their mark into the land. Clearly, the sensitivity to the landscape counts for more than national origins, as success is shared by both Italians and foreigners. Among the former is Roberto Barni, whose garden definitely earns it ambitious title “The Poetry of Agricultural Landscape”. The emphasis is more on gardens and less on art for Gianni Cacciarini and Daniele Cariani. In their rose garden the broad sweeps of flowers, lushly colored and textured, are draped over a rustic wood pergola set off by the spare surroundings. Among the later is the sculpture garden by the Romanian Swiss sculptor Daniel Spoerri. The work of Ireland’s Janet Mullarney is deservedly on the front cover, a captivating dialogue between artefacts (sculptures, potted plants etc.) and the wider landscape. But when it comes to capturing the essence of Tuscany it is Venzano’s “Herb Garden” by Australians Lindsay Megarrity and Donald Leveers which will make everyone sigh with envy. This book is mostly inspirational. The lavish photography emphasizes the mood of each garden, but reveals little of its structure, in the line with the editorial slant, which is more lifestyle than garden style. Many readers will be disappointed. Art and garden historians appreciate a bibliography, more than an appendix of artists’ biographies mixing the great with the indifferent. Tourists will also feel let down, there is no contact list for the open gardens. A lovely book but a few steps from being a useful work of reference. (Anna Piussi)

review

3/1/2005

Schoner Wohnen Decoration

Sattgrüne Spielwiese für die kunst frühlingsgrün, so weit das Auge reicht: Scheinbar nahtlos verschmilzt der Garten der Kunstlerin Isanna Generali mit den sanften Hügeln der toskanischen Landschaft. Wie zufällig versreute Kunstobjekte aus Gummi, Holz oder rostigem Stahl sind die einzigen Gestaltungsmerkmale auf der ansonten naturbelassenen Wiese, die das Anwesen nahe Siena umgibt. Vergangenes sichtbar zu machen, Zeichen der Zeit an Gegenstanden des Alltags genauso wie an Gebäuden oder einer Landschaft gezielt herauszuarbeiten, das ist das Anliegen der Künstlerin Isanna Generali. Geboren in Modena, fuhrte sie ihr Kunststudium nach Florenz, wo sie sich im Anschluss mit so verschiedenen Disziplinen wie Grafik, Malerei, Innenarchitektur und Theater beschäftigte. Heute konzentriert sich ihre künstlerische Täftigkeit auf das Thema Skulptur an Installationen aus verschiedensten Materialien erforscht sie deren Meamorphosen. Dass sie vor rund zehn Jahren zufällig auf ein verlassenes Anwesen mit einem alten Bauernhaus, umgeben von einer weitläufigen, völlig zugewucherten Wiese in einem Tal unweit der Stadt Siena stieß, bezeichnet Isanna als großes Glück. “Einen solchen Ort hatte ich mir immer ertraumt”, erzählt sie. “Er ist der ideale Inspirationsquell fur meine Arbeit; Raum, Luft und Licht sind im Überfluss vorhanden”. Anfangs hatte sie den Gedanken, den Garten zumindest teilweise zu einem Atelier zu überdachen; im Zuge der Restaurierung entschied sie sich jedoch gegen eine Umstrukturierung des Außenraums und beschloss, den vorgefundenen Zustand zu erhalten.
Die wilde Wiese wird lediglich von Zeit zu Zeit gemäht. Wie selbstverständlich ist die Grünfläche – Isanna nennt sie auch den “Nicht-Garten” - im Laufe der Zeit zur Erweiterung des Hauses und Ateliers geworden, zu Experimentierfeld und Spielwiese der Kunst. Hier platziert Isanna etwa Skulpturen aus Eisen oder Drahtgeflecht, die sie gezielt den Witterungseinflüssen aussetzt, um ihnen durch eine rostige Pana einen dauerhaften, zeitlsen Charakter zu verleihen. Objekte aus Naturmaterialien wie Holz oder Bast verrotten mit der Zeit unter Einwirkung von Sonne, Wind und Wetter; andere lassen eine Marke zurück; so etwa die Gummifolie in form eines Kleides, die das Gras an der Stelle, auf der sie gelegen hat, verwelken lieb. Mit der Metamorphose der Kunstobjekte verändert sich auch der Garten – Kunst und Natur verschmelzen, die scheinbar zufällig auf der Landschaft wahrgenommen. Wie selbstverständlich wirken die Kunstwerke in ihrer Umgebung; so authentisch wie ein vom Bauern auf dem Feld liegen gelassenes Wekzeug. In seiner herben, schlichten Schonheit hebt sich Isannas Kunstlergarten auf tuende Weise von der verkitschten Scheinwelt einiger Agriturismos in der Gegend ab. Die Künstlerin ist überzeugt davon, dass die Entscheidung, den Garten quasi wie vorgefunden zu belassen, die richtige war. Die weitläufige Wiese ist für sie wie “ein anspruchsloses Kind, das es über die Jahre zu nichts Besonderem gebracht hat das man aber umso mehr liebt”. (Kristina Raderschad)

review

2/1/2005

Garden Design Journal

Turning the pages of this well-illustrated book, I daydreamed of blue-sky, rain-free summer afternoons disturbed only by the occasional bark of a dog across the valley. Not necessarily in Tuscany... but here is another sample of fine gardens to grace the coffee table, and to be browsed through for inspiration. It consists of 30 cameos of gardens designed or modified by “some of the most renowned contemporary artists in the world” who have lingered or settled in the region. Each is represented by several photos and a short essay, and there is a useful brief biography for each artist, together with a one-page introduction. We are occasionally reminded that gardens “are for people”—but these ones (as so often in garden books) appear to be for the plants sculptures and camera... There is not a human in sight. I find such Marie Celeste landscapes disconcerting. These gardens are stages, and need actors to animate them. Each is, as it were, for a different play: the personal history, character and memories of the person(s) who made or modified it, and their individual reactions to the landscape and traditions of Tuscany. It is the book’s purpose to display and explain the unique places that result. It succeeds in part, mainly through Mario Ciampi’s 230 photos. The translated text sometimes a little awkward, and generally rather flat; moreover, the essays then to be bland, saying little about the motivations and inspirations of the artists—or of other people’s reactions to their creations. The artists, a third of them Italian, include: Niki de Saint Phalle, whose 22 glittering giant tarot card figures enliven (or intimidate) their woodland setting; Frances Lansing, painter and intaglio printer, who tried to “do no harm to the landscape” in making her tufa-block walled hortus conclusus, land artist Alan Sonfist, who planted concentric tree and bush circles to echo a traditional planting form; and painter Maro Gorky, whose estate-scale garden displays Matthew Spender’s terracotta figures. Beverly Pepper has reshaped a grassy slope into a theatre, and Ian Hamilton Finlay has “scattered bronze objects and trees”. “No other artist can claim to have investigated nature so thoroughly...” is surely hyperbolic! What does he make of Daniel Spoerri’s belief that “all men fear nature, and do there best to tame, prune and uproot it”? It is a pity the text leaves so much to be surmised. (Martin Spray)

review

1/1/2005

Gardenlife

Draw the curtains, forget the cold, gray winter outside and immerse yourself in the soft light of Tuscany. This lavishly illustrated book shows 30 gardens designed by contemporary artists who have made Tuscany their home—and who can blame them? The region is beautiful and has a rich artistic heritage. Mariella Sgaravatti explores the motivation behind artists’ work, but it is the image of these pieces set among Tuscan landscapes—bronze figures looming out of trees in Fernando Botero’s Garden for the Goddess of Fertility and the extraordinary Tarot Garden of Niki de Saint Phalle—are truly inspiring.

review

1/1/2005

ARTE IN

“Tuscany Artists Gardens” di Mariella Sgaravatti, riscopre trenta sorprendenti giardini di artisti che, per la storia, la cultura e l’armonia del paesaggio, hanno scelto la Toscana per vivere e lavorare. Il volume documenta opere spesso nascoste e rivela tesori immersi nel verde di protagonisti dell’arte contemporanea come Ferdinando Botero, Pietro Cascella, Sandro Chia, Igor Mitoraj, Hidetoshi Nagaswa, Daniel Spoerri, Mattew Spender, Niki de Saint Phalle. A cielo aperto la botanica si intreccia con le opere d’arte, popolando parchi e giardini di grandi statue in marmo o bronzo, in parte nascoste dalla vegetazione, frammenti di un olimpo ormai perduto, sculture in terracotta poste come numi tutelari dislocate tra piante di agrumi e petunie, installazioni, l’hortus conclusus, piccolo spazio perfetto per osservare i cambiamenti costanti della natura. Grazie al raffinato apparato fotografico di Mario Ciampi, incontriamo sculture che si inseriscono nei muri insieme ad antichi reperti, opere fantasiose e coloratissime che entrano in contatto con il verde, integrandosi e a volte compenetrandosi, opere che diventano percorsi e luoghi di sosta, brillando di trasparenze, colori mutevoli e instabili che creano atmosfere magiche e surreali e ci accompagnano attraverso i misteri della natura. (Giampaolo Atzeni)

review

11/1/2004

La Mia Casa

Giardini di oggi. Un viaggio come in un sogno nelle magie dei giardini toscani.
“Tuscany Artists Gardens” di Mariella Sgaravatti, paesaggista alla ricerca di un linguaggio per il giardino contemporaneo, con foto di Mario Ciampi.
Le splendide immagini di questo libro, mostrano luoghi di magica bellezza che allietano una delle regioni più poetiche della penisola e tracciano un quadro sull'odierno concetto dell'arte del verde. Si passa così dalle silenti, misteriose presenze che popolano il giardino di Igor Mitoraj, ricco di classiche memorie rintracciabili nelle citazioni scultoree dell'artista, a un'attualizzazione dell'hortus conclusus; dal giardino fantastico di Niki de Saint Phalle, adorno di ciclopiche sculture rutilanti di colori, alla solennità delle memorie storiche e vegetali del vasto spazio di Villa Riposo dei Vescovi. L'elegante volume costituisce un affascinante percorso tra le sensazioni che l'uomo moderno può scoprire immergendosi nella natura organizzata all'interno di un giardino e si pone come fonte di spunti creativi per chi anche oggi ricerca l'incrollabile, tacita, variegata e multicolore bellezza dell'elemento vegetale.

review

10/29/2004

Il Venerdì di Repubblica

Trenta artisti hanno scelto la Toscana per viverci. Un libro racconta i loro giardini.
Vieni, c'è una scultura nel bosco che cos'è il giardino contadino lo sappiamo: è un orto che si prolunga fin sotto le mura domestiche. Il giardino borghese abbiamo imparato a riconoscerlo: ha un prato e un barbecue, cespugli e una pergola, sostituita volentieri da una più pratica tenda copri sole. E il giardino d'artista come sarà mai? Se avete una simile curiosità, ecco un libro che vi darà la risposta. Lo ha scritto Mariella Sgaravatti raccogliendo testimonianze e aneddoti da trenta artisti difama che hanno scelto la campagna toscana come luogo di residenza o di vacanza. Lo ha illustrato, fotografandoli con passione, Mario Ciampi, che si è tenuto rigorosamente all'esterno di case pur bellissime.

Tuscany Artists Gardens mostra i giardini di Igor Mitoraj e Sandro chia, Fernando Botero, Pietro Cascella e Niki de Saint Phalle, di Daniel Spoerri e Beverly Pepper per citarne solo alcuni. Ognuno di loro ha lasciato la cornice naturale - un podere, un bosco, un vivaio, un labirinto, un sentiero – intorno alle loro sculture o installazioni. Il bello di questi giardini, infatti, è che, se pure vengono curati da un giardiniere, se hanno rose preziose e golose erbe da cucina, sono di fatto “paesaggio toscano con artista”. Come dice Daniel Spoerri a chi rimane incantato di fronte alle colline piene di ulivi che lo circondano, “qui tutto è stato creato dall'uomo, niente è naturale”.
Il bello del giardino d'artista (e il libro lo racconta con intelligenza) è proprio questo: se scendesse il buio sulla Toscana e si illuminassero solo quei giardini, disseminati sulle colline senesi, intorno a Firenze o in Maremma, a Certaldo o alle pendici dell'Amiata, a Volterra o a Capalbio, a Montalcino o a Serravalle Pistoiese, a Monterinaldi o in Val di Magra, nella Valle dell'Arno o nella Valle di Terzano e sulle colline di Marignolle, potremmo ancora dedurre da qusti scampoli di paradiso qual è il fascino toscano.