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Lawrence Beck | Italian Gardens    Jan 8 - Feb 12, 2011

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These eleven large scale, color photographs follow a continuum that originated with Beck’s “Botanical Gardens” series from the late 1990s and his “Waterfalls” from 2005-7. They represent scenes in five different gardens across south central Italy, an area of intimate familiarity for Beck. At Ninfa, a once-prosperous medieval town that was abandoned circa 1300, the architectural relics are enveloped by sprawling vegetation which has transformed the small city into a natural botanical garden. A different mise en scene can be seen in the photographs from the Boboli and the (Villa Reale di) Marlia in which the carefully maintained grounds evidence a version of nature more influenced by human cultivation.

The patinated ruins, bridges, statuary, and fountains in these works are photographed in an early morning light that provides both atmospheric softness and chiaroscuro definition. The motif is the same as that used by classical artists as a source of contemplation and inspiration, but here is used in a way that uniquely blurs the distinction between photography and painting.

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