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Meditations: The Photographs of Paul Clemence

At Inhotim Institute, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Photo by Paul Clemence

Meditations: The Photographs of Paul Clemence

An Exhibition at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden

Photos by Paul Clemence/ Text by Mitchell Snow

One branch of our ideas about the art of the modern garden can be traced back to early eighteenth century Japan, when its rulers began crafting carefully created stands of flowering cherry trees as a sign of their benevolence toward their people.  Japanese depictions of the intense, short-lived beauty of their beloved blooms reached their apogee in the art of its nineteenth century woodblock printers.  It was through his study of these prints that painter Claude Monet grasped the underlying concept of the garden as a kind of microcosmos.

Exhibit overview, highlighting photos taken at Maison Claude Monet in Giverny, France. Photo Paul Clemence.

Monet created his own version of one of Japan’s gardens at his home in Giverny.  There he arranged the compositions that gave rise to his series of waterlily paintings well before he lifted brush to canvas and opened a path toward twentieth century abstraction.

 

Inhotim Institute, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Photo Paul Clemence.

As the elements of abstract art propagated throughout the western world, landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx adopted the indigenous flora of Brazil in the 1930s to create the palette for his own recreations of the natural world.  More than half a century later, arts patron Ernst Beyeler turned to architect Renzo Piano to create a space for his modern art collection — including one of Monet’s waterlily paintings.  Piano responded with a building that framed its exterior views of the surrounding park and gardens as if they were paintings, erasing the boundary between interior and exterior.

At New York Botanical Gardens Roberto Burle Marx exhibit designed by Raymond Jungles Photo Paul Clemence.

In his photographs of these constructed environments, photographer Paul Clemence traces the complex history of these visions of an earthly paradise, intended from their beginnings to create atmospheres that invite deeper reflection.  His focus on detail draws our attention to the unities of underlying form and content that exist behind the transformation of a simple piece of earth through conscious intervention and extends it back into the universe.

 

At Miami Beach Botanical Gardens. Photo by Paul Clemence.

 

Exhibit overview. Photo Paul Clemence.

 

Exhibit view showing Cherry Blossom diptych by Paul Clemence. Photo installation shot by Harold Estime, courtesy of Miami Beach Botanical Garden

 

Exhibit view featuring diptych taken at Beyeler Foundation garden by Paul Clemence. Instalaltion shot by Harold Estime courtesy of Miami Beach Botanical Garden.

 

Cherry Blossoms at Tidal Basin, Washington DC. Photo by Paul Clemence.

 

Beyeler Gardens. Photo Paul Clemence.

 

At waterlilies garden at Maison Claude Monet, Giverny, France. Photo Paul Clemence.

 

At waterlilies garden at Maison Claude Monet, Giverny, France. Photo Paul Clemence.

 

At waterlilies garden at Maison Claude Monet, Giverny, France. Photo Paul Clemence.

 

At waterlilies garden at Maison Claude Monet, Giverny, France. Photo Paul Clemence.

 

Meditations: The Photographs of Paul Clemence, is on view at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden through November 21, 2021.

 

Mitchell Snow is the author of A Revolution in Movement: Dancers, Painters, and the Image of Modern Mexico (University Press of Florida 2020). He has written about Latin American art and culture for publications such as Américas, Art Nexus, History of Photography and  Review: Literature and Arts of the Americas.

 

 

 

Paul Clemence is an award-winning photographer and writer exploring the cross-section of design, art and architecture. A published author, his volume Mies van der Rohe’s FARNSWORTH HOUSE remains to this day the most complete photo documentation of that iconic modern residential design, and a selection of these photos is part of the Mies van der Rohe Archives housed by MoMa, New York. He is widely published in arts, architecture and lifestyle magazines like Metropolis, ArchDaily, Architizer, Modern, Casa Vogue Brasil and others. Archi-Photo, aka Architecture Photography, his Facebook photo blog quickly became a photography and architecture community, with over 970,000 followers worldwide. An architect by training, Clemence is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

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