Charles Jencks PhD – In Pursuit of Greater Meaning

Renaissance man, Charles Jencks, has many claims to his international fame.  Andrew Marr has described him as ‘one of the most ambitious and radical artists of our time’. He is also the man who invented the term ‘post-modernism’, which has changed the way we look at modern architecture; and who with his late wife Maggie Keswick, started Maggie’s Centres designed by world renowned architects to offer solace and support for cancer patients and carers at major hospitals.

Based on key books about his work, Jencks will be talking about his life, landforms, galaxies, Maggie and much more plus how architecture can change lives.

Issues first addressed in his writing, such as the public nature of iconic landmarks in the age of confused global culture, are later taken up in his landscape where he translates some of the fundamental elements of the cosmos into a communicative art. Charles argues that the units of the universe – its laws, atoms, black holes, DNA, and other essentials including its basic patterns – should be celebrated expressively, brought into public life (not “sit on their ass in a museum” as Pop Artists proclaimed in the 1960s). These natural and cosmic realities are virtually eternal and universal, and should become a fitting global iconography if we are up to the task.

Charles Jencks is a renowned cultural theorist, landscape designer, architectural critic and historian, and co-founder of the Maggie’s Cancer Care Centres. His best-selling books include The Language of Post-Modern Architecture, Adhocism, The Architecture of the Jumping Universe and The Architecture of Hope (on Maggie’s Centres). His recent landscape work is summarised in The Universe in the Landscape.

Scotland is home to several of his most exciting landscapes including The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, Jupiter Artland, (where the adhoc sculpture Metaphysical Landscapes was exhibited 2011), and Landform Ueda, part of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, in which Charles designs won the ‘Gulbenkian Prize for Museums’. Charles has worked on Landscape design projects in Europe, including Parco Portello in Milan, an iconographic and green project for CERN, and projects in China, Turkey and South Korea. His most recent project, The Crawick Multiverse 2015, was commissioned by the Duke of Buccleuch, and culminates annually in a three day festival of performance art and public debates with world leading cosmologists and scientists. This year’s has been hailed his masterpiece, further information can be seen here.

With his late wife Maggie Keswick, he co-founded the Maggie Centre Cancer Cares centres which provide free practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their families. Since 1996, over twenty centres have been built by distinguished architects, encouraged by Charles, and two awarded the Stirling Prize for architecture.

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