Gingko leaf pattern

Background information

1973-1975, by Hanns Scharff.
Surviving as a living fossil, the gingko tree grows a leaf similar in form, size and structure to those its ancestors had 175 to 200 million years ago. Periodic glaciers reduced its world-wide distribution to China and Japan, where it was preserved into historic times as a planting around tombs and temple gardens. After the gingko tree was reintroduced into Europe and North America during the 18th century, Goethe wrote "Gingko Biloba":

Leaf of Eastern tree transplanted
Here into my garden's field
Hast me secret meaning granted
Which adepts delight will yield

Art thou one--one living being
Now divided into two?
Art thou two, who jointed agreeing
and in one united grew?

To the question, pondered duly,
Have I found the right reply:
In my poems you see truly
Twofold and yet one am I.[1]

Inspired by the poem, Scharff adopted the tree's unique fan- shaped leaf as a symbol of life and incorporated its form within fountains and alongside escalators and stairways throughout the Los Angeles Mall using Venetian glass of various shades of blue.

Footnote: 1. Carus, Paul, Goethe with Special consideration of His Philosophy, 1915, The Open Court Publishing Company, p. 223



The text has been provided courtesy of Michael Several, Los Angeles, September 1997.

Back to Los Angeles Civic Center.