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Drawing, Plan for West Field, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN

This is a Drawing. It was designed by Barbara Stauffacher Solomon. It is dated September 27, 1986 and we acquired it in 2017. Its medium is graphite, color pencil on paper. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

This landscape design for the West Field at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden presents an outdoor public space cohesive with the existing architecture of the Walker Art Center. Barbara Stauffacher Solomon’s geometric parterres recall the style of formal 18th-century gardens, which she had long studied. The traditional forms also link her design with the inspiration of the Walker Art Center’s architect, Edward Larrabee Barnes. Though Barnes was a modernist, his original 1971 proposal for the Sculpture Garden combined the rigidity of historic garden design with modern geometric forms, a motif that Solomon clearly applies in this later landscape concept.
Solomon’s radiating, linear elements also reflect her interest in the interaction between the interior and exterior. The linear panes holding together the Barnes-designed glass greenhouses of the Cowles Conservatory (visible at the drawing’s right margin) would have allowed expansive views of the plantings inside, creating a dialogue between geometry, line, and perspective. Solomon collaborated with landscape architect Michael van Valkenburgh on the plantings of the Regis Gardens located in the Sculpture Garden’s greenhouses. Within the 250-foot long space, the designers created a permanent installation in the north house and a flexible exhibition space in the south. The central atrium features the 22-foot high wood and glass sculpture Standing Glass Fish by Frank Gehry.
It is unclear if Solomon’s design for the West Field was ever realized. The space itself is rarely mentioned in discussions of the Sculpture Garden or the Conservatory, and modern satellite imagery confirms that the space was most recently used for “Walker on the Green,” an artist-designed Mini Golf course featuring work by Locus Architecture, David Lefkowitz and Stephen Mohring, Tom Loftus, Karl Unnasch and others.
The Sculpture Garden and Cowles Conservatory closed in 2015. All but four of its sculptures were relocated or put in storage in anticipation of a major reconstruction project. The project aims to repair failing infrastructure–irrigation, drainage and stormwater systems, walkways, retaining walls–and increase accessibility and energy efficiency. In June of 2017, the entire area will be reopened as a unified 19-acre campus.

This object was donated by Lise Friedman. It is credited From Lise, Ceil, and Zoe Friedman in honor of their mother, Mildred Friedman.

  • Drawing, Ground Plan of a Formal Garden
  • pen and black ink, brush and green, blue, orange watercolor, graphite on....
  • Museum purchase from Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program....
  • 1991-58-15

Its dimensions are

30.5 × 22.9 cm (12 × 9 in.)

It is inscribed

Inscribed in graphite, lower left: Plan for West Field - Walker Art Center (A) / with love to Mickey, Bobbie; in graphite, vertically, lower left: 1. Black Anthracite coal on ridges in winter / 2. w/ croquis blubs [sic] to be first signs of spring; in graphite, lower right: 9-27-86

Cite this object as

Drawing, Plan for West Field, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; Designed by Barbara Stauffacher Solomon (American, b. 1928); graphite, color pencil on paper; 30.5 × 22.9 cm (12 × 9 in.); From Lise, Ceil, and Zoe Friedman in honor of their mother, Mildred Friedman; 2017-69-1

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