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Confronting the terror within
A walk in the garden
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Spring 2002
A walk in the garden

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"Young people need to grow up in the presence of the arts," Murphy, who died in 1994, once said. "My own view has always been that you cannot expect to develop beauty of character without beauty of environment."

First-time visitors often are surprised by the garden's lushness and notable collection of 19th- and 20th-century figurative and abstract sculpture by such seminal artists as Alexander Calder, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Auguste Rodin and David Smith.

When shaping his idea for the sculpture garden, Murphy drew on his studies and travels in Europe, where he witnessed the continent's great civic and urban-planning movement. He was especially taken with Italy's great plazas, which provided public spaces in an artful environment.

"He wanted to create a sculpture garden as a transition zone on campus, as a place for reflection of the unforced, unmediated kind," says Cynthia Burlingham, deputy director of collections for the UCLA Hammer Museum and the garden's curator.

Murphy and UCLA landscape architect Ralph D. Cornell transformed what was originally the "fair-weather parking lot" — so-called because the dusty lot became a quagmire when it rained — into one of the nation's most renowned outdoor sculpture gardens. Curators from museums and universities around the country come to campus to glean ideas when developing or modifying their own gardens.

"With its broad range of bronze, steel and marble works by European and American artists who have defined some of the most important directions in 20th-century sculpture, it not only clarifies modern sculpture, but also champions sculpture in general," writes art critic Michael Brenson in an essay on the garden. "It makes the objects in it as important as buildings and trees, as essential as architecture and nature. Sculpture here seems part of all creative life, including nature."

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