Art in Focus: John Goto’s “High Summer”

Friday, April 6, 2018
Sunday, August 19, 2018

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 explores 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 is 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” have been 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 have been 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.

John Goto, Society (High Summer portfolio) (detail), 2000–2001, giclée print on Somerset archival paper, Yale Center for British Art, Friends of British Art Fund, Courtesy of the artist and Dominique Fiat, Paris, © John Goto, photo by Richard Caspole

This exhibition and the accompanying brochure (which is available in the gallery and online) have been generously supported by the Dr. Carolyn M. Kaelin Memorial Fund and the Marlene Burston Fund.