Vancouver Biennale speaker Charles Jencks

August 14, 2009 at 1:50 pm 1 comment

Choices facing Public Art  

7:30 p.m. Thursday, October 1, 2009
Fletcher Challenge Room, SFU Harbour Centre 

Charles_Jencks_Feb_05_01jCharles Jencks will be giving his first public lecture in Vancouver – Art Land Versus Sculpture Park – as part of the Vancouver Biennale.  It will take place on October 1, 2009 in partnership with Simon Fraser University’s City Program.

Charles Jencks is an influential architectural theorist, landscape architect and designer whose name is synonymous with the concept of the Post-modern in architecture.  He was the first to extend those ideas into architectural discourse with his book ‘The Language of Post-Modern Architecture.’


Iconic BuildingHis latest book, ‘The Iconic Building,’ examines the phenomenon of the icon in contemporary architecture and the meaning of signature buildings in today‘s world of hyper trendiness and celebrity. His recent work includes fractal designs of buildings and furniture, as well as extensive landscape designs based on complexity theory, waves and solutions. These themes are expanded in his own private garden, the Garden of Cosmic Speculation, at Portrack House near Dumfries.

Garden of Cosmic Speculation

Jencks is famous for his innovative garden designs. In 2004 the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art won the Gulbenkian Prize as Museum of the Year for his dramatic and radical landscape project titled Landform.

Landform - Jencks

Those who visit  the site describe it as a transforming experience.

Charles Jencks was born 1939 in Baltimore.  He first studied English Literature at Harvard University, later gaining an MA in architecture from the Graduate School of Design in 1965. He also has a PhD in Architectural History from University College. Jencks has lectured at over forty universities throughout the world.

Charles Jencks is the trustee and co-founder (with his late wife Maggie Keswick) for the unique Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres, a series of buildings and grounds in various cities built with the belief that architecture and form could provide healing and comfort to those battling cancer.

His numerous books are a perpetual mapping of the trends and paradigm shifts in the lexicon of architecture. Jencks’s massive success as a writer and a historian comes not only from his brilliant mind, but also, his accessible writing style, which is a testament to his long-standing credo of pluralism.


First Lectures in Vancouver: Living in the Art Land

This lecture, his first in Vancouver, is on public art, which has moved beyond individual statuary in the city to become, in some cases, more meaningful and contextual.  Several movements since the 1960s, such as Land Art, show these interests.  

Today sculpture parks and multiple installations are proliferating around the globe, with over 140 sculpture parks in Britain. But these departures have created another crisis, where art in the park has becoming the parking lot of art. The Artland, where landscape and its laws are given parity with the work of art, not necessarily sculpture, is the result, a genre often unified by a common thread, a single patron or artist, or an overarching vision.

“Artland Versus Sculpture Park: Choices Facing Public Art” is the first two talks in the series “Living in the Art Land.” Charles Jencks will also give an illustrated talk titled “The Garden of Cosmic Speculation: Nature Talking to Nature” on October 3, 2009, as part of the Vancouver Institute fall speakers series (see for details).  Another talk in the “Living In the Art-land” series will be by ‘sandman’ Jim Denevan and will take place in June, 2010.
Charles Jencks talk has been organized by the Vancouver Biennale and the Simon Fraser University City Program, with sponsorship from Paul Sangha Ltd., Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver, and the Vancouver Institute.


The Vancouver Biennale

The Biennale is a non-profit charitable organization with the mandate to mount a biannual major outdoor public art exhibition featuring world-class international artists, new media and performance in public spaces. In addition, the Biennale produces publications, curriculum, symposiums and lecture series.  Their blog is here.

With the theme of “in-transit-ion”,  the 2009-2011 Vancouver Biennale will install over 40 works by artists with international reputations. With major sculptural works in Vancouver’s City parks and on beaches, the Biennale is also installing public art at the Vancouver International Airport  Arrivals Terminal(YVR), the City of Richmond, the Translink rapid-transit stations, on buses, at Telus Science World and the University of British Columbia Botanical Gardens.


Vladas Vildžiūnas‘s Barbora at Pacfic Central Station.


Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver


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