Falling for Folly
Posted on July 21, 2017
The idea of a folly is inherently fun. Follies were built for pleasure and recreation, in a way the interacts with its environment and creates a way to travel to places far away if only in your imagination. Recently, I came across a great book in our library called Chinoiseries by Andrew Zega and Bernd H. Dams. As historians and watercolorists, they tell a great story by recreating many Chinoserie styled follies in watercolor . They call these follyies “The Architecture of Joy”, by looking at these inspired structures and their diminutive scale I can imagine them in situ with all their splendor. Here are a few that I particularly liked, it was hard to choose.
Not much was known about Chinese architecture in Europe during the 1700’s, but people were intrigued from wild reports, imaginative imagery, and secrecy . the term Chinoiserie is defined as “the imitation or evocation of Chinese motifs and techniques in Western art, furniture, and architecture, especially in the 18th century”. The definition of folly has a fascinating arc, while in architecture and theater it is associated with “whimsical” it also has darker meanings. From the dictionary:
- The state or quality of being foolish; lack of understanding or sense.
- A foolish action, practice, idea, etc.; absurdity: the folly of performing without a rehearsal.
- A costly and foolish undertaking; unwise investment or expenditure.
- Architecture. A whimsical or extravagant structure built to serve as a conversation piece, lend interest to a view, commemorate a person or event, etc.: found especially in England in the 18th century.
- Follies, a theatrical revue.
- Obsolete. Wickedness; Wantonness.
I like seeing these architectural watercolors on a blank canvas because I can imagine the moving world around them with more detail than a photo, but here are a few photos that give a sense of how they look in gardens.