Letter to the Editor: “Mystic Garden Meant for One Place”

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Published by the Wall Street Journal on December 25, 2014
 

WSJ logoMystic Garden Meant for One Place: The pool and the flowering lotus, with its connotations of Far Eastern mysticism, are part of what so many people have remarked about the Frick, that it is a calm oasis and a retreat from some jarring aspects of modern life in New York.

In regard to “In Defense of the Frick” (Arts in Review, Dec. 17), Julie Iovine makes a strange suggestion: that space for an expanded museum could be created by relocating the Frick Collection’s 70th Street garden. Almost 40 years ago, this garden was designed by Russell Page, who by some accounts was called in at the suggestion of Rachel Lambert Mellon. It is a viewing garden, which can be seen from the street, but the best view is from within the Frick, through an enfilade of rooms and corridors looking east, out through grand arched openings into daylight and the rare small open space, enclosed by blind arcades lined with trellis work, and in summer, a profusion of roses. This garden is totally site specific and could not be anywhere else. The walls were designed as an extension of the architecture of the Frick, and the rectangular lotus pool shows the genius of Russell Page: He deliberately introduced this very spare and modernist geometric element into the riot of ornament surrounding it. The pool and the flowering lotus, with its connotations of Far Eastern mysticism, are part of what so many people have remarked about the Frick, that it is a calm oasis and a retreat from some jarring aspects of modern life in New York. For all this beauty to be destroyed and replaced by the mundane facilities that are proposed is heartbreaking.

Christabel Gough
New York
(Ms. Gough is secretary of the Society for the Architecture of the City.)

Click here to view the letter online.

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