The garden

The garden of the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain is neither a park in the English style, nor a garden in the French style, or even a sculpture park, but rather a commissioned work created by the artist Lothar Baumgarten. The name, Theatrum Botanicum, is taken from books dating back to the Middle Ages where monks would take inventory of medicinal and aromatic plants.

In a survey conducted between July and September 2012 to gage the public’s reaction to the Fondation Cartier garden, the adjective most often cited by visitors to describe it was the word wild. Although its appearance resembles a wild meadow, Lothar Baumgarten has in fact created a cultivated garden. But the word “wild” is important because it has a connotation that goes beyond the description of something natural. It suggests a more abstract understanding of the garden as a place where nature carries on its existence untamed.

Since its creation in 1992, the garden, a permanent work in progress constructed around the idea of offering the visitor a spectacle of nature that is both calculated and wild, has integrated the notion of passing time, with an emphasis on seasons and years. The survey showed that the public perceives the Fondation Cartier garden as a space which embodies a particular logic. When the people surveyed were asked to describe this logic, the most recurring idea was that the garden had a natural or untamed logic behind it, even if many visitors emphasized that it was clearly well-organized or guided.

Lothar Baumgarten

There will be more trees, more shrubs. Ultimately, it will come down to a question of having the patience and passion to observe the transformation of an idea into a living space

Image gallery