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Ian Hamilton Finlay: The Garden and the Revolution

December 21, 1991–February 29, 1992

The first one-person exhibition in the United States devoted to the Scottish artist, poet, and garden designer focuses on Finlay's magnum opus, the four-acre garden in Scotland called "Little Sparta." The garden epitomizes Finlay's interest in the relationship between culture and nature, and serves as an ongoing critique of modern civilization. In its combination of planted areas, man-made ponds, and places of meditation--often containing sculptural pieces carved with evocative words, dates, or phrases--Little Sparta draws on the 18th-century British tradition of the poet's garden. Finlay often uses the French Revolution as a metaphor for both natural renewal and cultural upheaval, and cites classical culture for its values of truth, beauty, and order, which he feels are under siege in modern society. This installation includes sculptures, large color photographs of the garden, works on paper, wall statements taken from marble slabs in Finlay's Garden Temple, and music (commissioned by Finlay) to evoke the spirit of Little Sparta.


Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford


Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Main Building


Andrea Miller-Keller
John B. Ravenal

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