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The New American Garden: The Landscape Architecture of Oehme, van Sweden

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The New American Garden: The Landscape Architecture of Oehme, van Sweden

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Wolfgang Oehme (1930-2011) and James van Sweden (1935-2013) revolutionized modern American landscape architecture. Rejecting the well-manicured but perpetually thirsty lawns that had become icons of 20th-century suburban neighborhoods and corporate campuses, Oehme and van Sweden instead used ornamental grasses and perennials to create living tapestries requiring relatively little maintenance. These self-sustaining, meadow-like landscapes exemplified what came to be known as the New American Garden.

Founded in 1977 and based in Washington, D.C., the firm of Oehme, van Sweden & Associates went on to design projects for clients across the United States. Residential commissions ranged from urban townhouse gardens in D.C. and New York to expansive waterfront landscapes along the East Coast. The firm also completed high-profile designs for prominent corporate, institutional, and governmental clients including the Federal Reserve Bank in D.C., the Chicago Botanic Garden, and the New York Botanical Garden. Although Oehme and van Sweden are now deceased, the firm continues to operate under the next generation of leadership.

This exhibition will include both contemporary and new photographs of key projects designed by Oehme, van Sweden & Associates over the past several decades, along with related drawings and artifacts from the firm’s practice. A highlight of the exhibition will be the presentation of original paintings and sculptures by prominent artists—such as Henry Moore—that strongly influenced Oehme and van Sweden’s design work. The result will be an unprecedented exploration of the broad arc of landscape design, from early inspirations to project execution to the continuous changes that all landscapes undergo over time.

The exhibition is being organized in collaboration with the Cultural Landscape Foundation.

Visit the event website for details on pricing and hours.

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