Ian Hamilton Finlay: A Visual Primer

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Mit Press, 1992 - Art - 318 pages
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Poet, gardener, and moralist, Ian Hamilton Finlay is also an artist of international stature whose remarkable originality blurs the traditional genre distinctions between painting, sculpture, and architecture. Ian Hamilton Finlay: A Visual Primer will be an indispensable source for readers interested in any aspect of his work. Representing Finlay as both a visual artist and a poet, it brings together the widest range of printed texts, photographs, and environmental work yet assembled to provide a comprehensive overview of his achievements.

Finlay became known in the 1960s as Britain's foremost concrete poet and promoted this movement through his Wild Hawthorn Press, which he continues to operate. Yet he is best known for his garden at Stonypath in Lanarkshire, Scotland, one of the most celebrated of modern gardens. "Little Sparta," as the garden is now called, is an inland island constantly transformed with Neoclassical specimens relating Finlay's poem structures to a variety of landscape expressions. It uses the simple elements of plants, water, and land forms in which poem structures and emblems are points of focus to provide a visual and aesthetic education for the visitor.

In this garden laboratory, Finlay has transformed the poem from something on a printed page to something akin to a work of architecture. The majority of his work (which extends to many media including cards, posters, pamphlets, portfolios, books, and photographs) is carried out in collaboration with craftspeople, artists, photographers, and architects. Like his garden, his works often imply a sharp, uncompromising critique of the contemporary cultural scene.

The French critic Yves Abrioux is a member of the editorial board of the magazine Digraphs and has published numerous articles and exhibition catalogs on Ian Hamilton Finlay's work, as well as on contemporary American fiction and literary theory. Stephen Bann is Professor of Modern Cultural Studies at the University of Kent.

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The Garden and the Temple 39 Sundials
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About the author (1992)

Yves Abrious is Professor of English Literature at Universite Paris.

Stephen Bann is Emeritus Professor of Art History and a senior research fellow at the University of Bristol.

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