Duck Duck Book


9 – gardens of revelation
01.26.2005, 12:05 am
Filed under: art & entertainment

Gardens of revelation : environments by visionary artists / John Beardsley ; principal photography by James Pierce.
New York : Abbeville Press, c1995.
[MCL call number: 709.04 B368g; two copies, no holds]

Gardens of Revelation is a beautiful book of photographs of houses and yards that have been built, decorated, and embellished by their residents in their own unique and creative ways.  All of the "environments" in the book include outdoor spaces — yards, grottoes, courtyards, and gardens — and although most are in the United States, environments in Belgium, France, India, and South Africa are described as well.  There is a short, useful essay about each environment and its creator, describing the genesis of the work, the artist's philosophy and perspective on their work (if known), and the condition of the environment at the time the book was written.  Grandma Prisbey's bottle village (mentioned in booklist number 8) is included, and there are some lovely photographs of it.

There aren't very many books about this specific topic — the environments that people create for themselves, on their own terms — and this is one of my favorites.  There has been a surge of interest in "outsider," "visionary," or "naive" artists in the last dozen years or so, but most of the books available put some emphasis on works on paper, sculpture, and other movable forms.

The main part of the book is followed by two appendices, one listing organizations dedicated to environments by "visionary artists," and one listing the locations of many of the environments in the book.  There is also an extensive bibliography and a decent index.

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