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James garden - "craziest surrealist"

Published Jul 10, 2023
Updated Jul 10, 2023

Hidden within Mexican rainforests, close to the town of Xilitla we find a hidden work of art and architecture: Edward James’ Surrealist Garden. 

Known not only as a poet and writer, James was a notorious patron of the Surrealist movement, and had an important role in the lives and works of famous artists such as Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, André  Breton, and Leonora Carrington.  

In Dalí’s words, Edward James was the craziest one of all surrealists put together. Special, visionary, creative. And this garden exemplifies that. In 1947, James began the creation of this unique landscape, by designing surrealist architectural features in constant interaction with the dense jungle around it. 

There were no blueprints, just his imagination and the craftsmanship of over a hundred workers who took part in bringing his creations to life. Over 30 sculptural features were built, such staircases to nowhere, gothic archways and dramatic entrances. 

Year after year, until his death he continued to add on to this masterpiece. Though now it is open to the public, it was not designed to be seen by all, it was not made for show, it was within his private property and was a place in which he dared to bring his wildest dreams into the physical world.

Recommended reading:

Margaret Hook, 2007. “Surreal Eden: Edward James and Las Pozas” Princeton Architectural Press, New York.

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