Art in Focus: John Goto’s “High Summer”
In his series High Summer (2000–2001), a portfolio of fifteen digital prints, the photographer John Goto creates composite scenes in which contemporary figures disrupt the landscape gardens of eighteenth-century British country estates. These intrusive arrangements of people complicate the carefully contrived gardens with their seemingly natural planting and emblematic classical buildings. Goto’s integration of contemporary characters into historic landscape gardens encourages the viewer to think critically about nature and culture both past and present, and the politics of these gardens then and now.
This student-curated exhibition explored the historical sites that Goto references in eight of his photographs. Drawing on eighteenth-century views of the gardens at Stowe in Buckinghamshire and Stourhead in Wiltshire from the Center’s collection, Goto’s work was contextualized to highlight the ways in which these picturesque landscapes have been created, adapted, and represented over time to serve particular and sometimes competing ideologies.
Art in Focus is an annual initiative for members of the Center’s Student Guide Program, providing Yale undergraduates with curatorial experience and an introduction to all aspects of exhibition practice. The student guide curators for Art in Focus: John Goto’s “High Summer” were Kelly Fu, DC ’19; Matthew Klineman, BK ’19; Jordan Schmolka, BK ’20; and Jackson Willis, BK ’19. In researching and presenting the exhibition the students were led by Linda Friedlaender, Senior Curator of Education; Jennifer Reynolds-Kaye, Curator of Education and Academic Outreach; and Courtney Skipton Long, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Art Collections.