David Hartt: A Colored Garden is the first artist-designed garden to activate the 49-acre historic site of The Glass House located in New Canaan. Hartt’s work explores histories lying dormant in the landscape with speculative narratives that provide a playful, exuberant, and vibrant counterpoint to the surrounding grounds.
Located in the south meadow just below the Glass House, Hartt’s circular garden will span forty feet and comprise an array of flowers — including peonies, chrysanthemums, zinnias, and phlox — that bloom sequentially, creating a variation of height, texture, and color. The selection of flowers corresponds to the plant varieties found in the paintings of Charles Ethan Porter (1847 – 1923), an African-American artist whose poetic still lifes, landscapes, and portraits were celebrated by well-known contemporaries such as Frederic Church, Edmonia Lewis, Henry Ossawa Tanner, and Mark Twain. Although Porter studied in New York and worked for a time in Paris, his work is firmly rooted in and inspired by Connecticut where he spent most of his life.
When designing the garden, Hartt took inspiration from David Whitney’s contributions to the Glass House site. As a well-known curator and Philip Johnson’s partner for over forty years, Whitney exerted considerable influence on the evolution of the landscape, including the creation of colorful gardens, many of which are no longer extant. The circular shape of the garden also echoes Johnson-designed elements within the site as well as Donald Judd’s site-specific concrete sculpture.
For the duration of the project, a bronze mask designed by Hartt will hold cuttings from the garden and sit on top of the dining table in the Glass House. Additionally, an online exhibition will feature works by Porter and Hartt alongside an evolving selection of materials documenting the project.
Hartt is a visual artist whose research-based practice investigates the interplay between culture, the built environment, and the communities that shape and are shaped by these concepts. As part of a year-long residency, he will begin work on a related film that reflects on the Arcadian ideals represented in the site’s landscape as well as The Burial of Phocion, a painting attributed to Nicolas Poussin that stands inside the Glass House. The film will follow a group of chamber musicians as they perform new music by composer Tomeka Reid. The roving camera will capture the performance, the structure of the building, and the pastoral context.
About David Hart
David Hartt (b. 1967, Montréal) lives and works in Philadelphia where he is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania. He has an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BFA from the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Ottawa.
Hartt’s upcoming and recent solo exhibitions include The Histories at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and in the forest at the Graham Foundation, Chicago. Current and recent group exhibitions include Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America at The Museum of Modern Art, New York (on view through May 31, 2021); America Is Hard to See at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Shine a light/Surgir de l’ombre: Canadian Biennial at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.
His work is in the public collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; The RISD Museum, Providence; The Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; and The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
About the Glass House
Built between 1949 and 1995 by architect Philip Johnson, is a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation located in New Canaan, CT. The pastoral 49-acre landscape comprises fourteen structures, including the Glass House (1949), and features a permanent collection of paintings and sculptures alongside exhibitions, performances, and public programs. The campus serves as a catalyst for the preservation and interpretation of modern architecture, landscape, and art; and a canvas for inspiration and experimentation. The tour season runs from April 15th through December 15th and advanced reservations are required. Private tours are available throughout the year.