Monday, July 16, 2012

A Day at the Getty

Barbara and I spent Sunday afternoon at the Getty Museum here in LA. We arrived early (which I highly recommend) and toured four featured exhibits: “Gustav Klimt: The Magic of Line”, Heaven, Hell, and Dying Well: Images of Death in the Middle Ages”, Drama and Devotion: Heemskerck's "Ecce Homo" Altarpiece from Warsaw(I proudly explained the definition of triptych—a three-part panel painting with a central scene flanked by two hinged wings that fold shut; the interior scenes were visible on important liturgical feast days, when the altarpiece was opened, doubling in size and magnificence), and the most enjoyable exhibit – “Herb Ritts, LA Style” – which we thoroughly enjoyed.

We loved the view and architecture of the Getty but the restaurant had a 30+ minute wait, so we opted for the café which was like eating at the airport: limited choices all overpriced.

The Central Garden is the unexpected treat at the Getty. The Central Garden, created by renowned artist Robert Irwin, lies at the heart of the Getty Center. The 134,000-square-foot design features a natural ravine and tree-lined walkway that leads the visitor through an extraordinary experience of sights, sounds, and scents. You’ll have to visit the Garden to fully appreciate the experience. 

The Museum is free, but parking is $15. Arrive early, otherwise parking may be limited and the wait for the tram will remind you of Disney.

Dionysius the Areopagite Converting the Pagan Philosophers, 1570 Artist: Antoine Caron, French, 1521-1599
Oil on panel
When Saint Paul was in Athens preaching on the hill of the Areopagus., Dionysius heard him speak and became a Christian. The artist depicted Dionysius converting pagan philosophers in Athens, telling them of his vision of the eclipse of the sun that occurred at Christ’s Crucifixion.

Female Figure (Possibly Venus), 1571-73 Artist: Giambologna, Flemish, active in Italy, 1529-1608
Bathing as she sits on a low column, this woman may represent Venus (Roman goddess of live). Typical of Giambologna’s work, the figure is conceived in an elegant spiraling pose, inviting the viewer to see the sculpture from multiple angles. Smooth expanses of marble flesh contract with the detailed depiction of the wavy and braided hair, an armband, and crumpled drapery.
Adolf Hitler, Nuremberg, September 1934
Artist: Paul Wolff, German, 1887-1952
Gelatin silver print
By the time this photograph of Hitler (1889-1945) was made, he had become the absolute dictator of Germany. Like Napoleon I and Benito Mussolini, Hitler understood the power of appearances to help shape his political destiny. In 1943 he stated, “Imagine me going around with a potbelly? It would mean political ruin.” This over the shoulder snapshot by Wolff is particularly effective in conveying the raw power of Hitler’s menacing stare.

Portrait of Marilyn Monroe as Chairman Mao, 1952
Artist: Philippe Halsman, American, 1906-1989. Salvador Dali, Spanish, 1904-1989
Gelatin silver print collage
What would you get if you crossed Chairman Mao Zedong (1893-1976), the leader of Communist China, with Marilyn Monroe (1936-1962), the American movie star and sex symbol? The idea for such a portrait was hatched by the Surrealist painter Salvador Dali and adroitly executed by Halsman. The clash of Eastern and Western cultural icons is both humorous and unsettling. Dali used Halsman’s image when he was invited to create cover art for Vogue magazine in 1972.

Jazz – Billie Holiday, 1954 Artist: Lisette Model, American, 1901-1983
Gelatin silver print
A jazz legend, Billie Holiday (1915-1959) had battled addiction, abuse, and racism when this photograph was taken. In 1952 Model embarked on a long-term book project about jazz musicians. Though the book was never realized, she photographed Holiday multiple times with the project in mind. Shown here silhouetted and positioned at the microphone, Holiday appears poised and contemplative in spite of the misfortunes and health issues that plagued her at the time.

Prince Edward and Mrs. Simpson, 1934
Artist: Vincenzo Laviosa, Italian, 1889-1935
Gelatin silver print
Opposed by the monarch and condemned by the Church of England, the affair between Prince Edward (1894-1972) and American divorcee Wallis Simpson (1896-1986) scandalized Britain in the 1930s. This portrait shows the couple before Edward’s brief reign as King Edward VIII. Edward abdicated his throne in 1936 to marry Simpson, and they assumed the titles Duke and Duchess of Windsor. In this portrait, their faces express the determination that would facilitate their unorthodox decision.

Joe Louis – “The Brown Bomber”, February 1935
Artist: Coy Watson, Jr., American, 1912-2009
Gelatin silver print
Covering news and events in Los Angeles, photographer Watson captured boxer Joe Louis (1914-1981) training at Main Street Gym for a fight with Lee Ramage. Louis won the fight by TKO (technical knockout) in two rounds. Two years later, Louis became the world heavyweight champion, a title he held until 1949, longer than any boxer in history. Louis was among the first African American athletes to be considered a national hero.

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