ROBERT IRWIN GETTY GARDEN

Lawrence Weschler, Author, Becky Cohen, Photographer , photos by Becky Cohen. J. Paul Getty Museum $45 (192p) ISBN 978-0-89236-620-0

In Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder, Weschler took readers through the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City, where some of the exhibits are hoaxes. None of the horticulture of the Central Garden of the Getty Center in Los Angeles is fake, and it is intelligently designed to be incomparably beautiful. This paean to the garden's conception and execution by designer Robert Irwin presents an introductory essay by Weschler (a shorter version appeared in the New Yorker in 1997), and a long, dialectical walk through the grounds with the two men. Their conversation is illustrated by landscape photographer Cohen's 166 color and 38 black-and-white shots, capturing the garden at various stages of construction and throughout the seasons. Begun in 1992, the project blossomed to 134,000 square feet by the time the museum opened in late 1997, and includes 300 plant varieties. Some of Cohen's photos are spectacular, revealing the gentle curves of green formed by Irwin's hedge work, or explosive blossoms. Some shots, however, are cropped in a manner that fails to best highlight the garden's elements, and a few reproductions are dull. That Weschler and Irwin's dialogue retains all the mundanities of spoken exchange ("Irwin: ...what do you call those things in the center? I've forgotten. Weschler: The pistils. Irwin: Yeah, the pistils. And now, over here...") can make the going a little tedious, but this is a high-end walk that design heads and Weschler fans will find a glorious airing. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/21/2002
Release date: 08/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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