8 Favorites at L.A.'s Getty Center--An Appreciation
The fires here in Los Angeles aren't over by a long shot, but it does look like yesterday's alarming news story--that the threatened Getty Center, one of two museums managed by the J. Paul Getty Trust--is no longer at risk. Inferno-like images from the nearby 405 freeway underscored how dire it really was. However, leave it to the world's wealthiest museum (also known to be a leader in art conservation practices worldwide) to have already thought ahead when it comes to natural disasters from life in L.A.: earthquakes and fire (read more about their special air filteration system and other responses they took here).
Living a twenty-minute drive away from this hilltop Acropolis, I couldn't help think about my own favorite locations and multimillion-dollar masterpieces at the Getty--and why this is such a major responsibility to protect (not to mention the 44,000 classical world antiquities over at the Getty Villa in Malibu):
Van Gogh's Irises, 1889 (Image above, top). Painted in the final year of the artist's life, this work was considered in 1987 the most expensive painting ever sold ($53.9 million), eventually purchased by the Getty in 1990 for an undisclosed amount. Can you imagine the value at auction today? Fortunately we don't have to because the Getty will never part with this crown jewel of its collection.
The Impressionism Gallery. Love this shot via the Getty of the hanging of one of their recent purchases, Eduouard Manet's, Spring, 1881. All of the icons from this most enduringly popular period in art history are here: Renoir, Monet, Seurat and more.
Fernand Khnopff, Portrait of Jeanne Kéfer, 1885. Although known as a Symbolist painter, Belgian artist Khnopff also painted portraits, in the case the daughter of a composer friend. Often using doors to place his subject in the immediate foreground to single out his subjects (themes of isolation in urban setting very common in Symbolist art), the painting regardless is for me utterly charming with its soft palette of silvery green and browns. I'm forever charmed by this painting--those bows under her chin and on her shoes!
Franz Xaver Winterhalter, Portrait of Leonilla, Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, 1843. I love this German portrait painting because it reminds me of those photos we all take while vacationing somewhere tropical while our friends back home are stuck in the throws of winter--"Wish You Were Here," is probably written on the back...
Julia Margaret Cameron, Ophelia, 1875-1900. Photography is also part of the immense collections at the Getty. Cameron was a Victorian socialite who took up photography midlife with a wish to elevate the medium to high art. There's hope for all us late bloomers, and Julia proves it!
James Ensor, Christ's Entry into Brussels in 1889 (1888). Like a "Where's Waldo" for adults, this large-scale painting takes up an entire wall in one of the Getty's galleries, Ensor's commentary about the coarseness and lack of spirituality in the modern world. Can you find Christ in this crowd before it swallows you up too?
Loyset Liédet and Pol Fruit, Lydia Ordering the Death of Her Sons (detail), 1467–72. If you need a medieval fix and some proper cone hat inspiration beyond "Game of Thrones" or Disney Princesses, the Getty has men in tights and ladies in waiting in their amazing jewel-like collections of medieval illuminated manuscripts. (BTW: Don't mess with Lydia.)
(Right) René Magritte, La Folie Des Grandeurs (Delusions of Grandeur),1967. Toward the end of his life, Magritte, the Surrealist painter known for painting men in bowler hats, turned to sculpture. This bronze work can be found outside in the Getty's sculpture garden. With views from the museum's hilltop location all the way to the Pacific Ocean, I love these nesting torsos as a reminder of the bikini beach life. Life is a--well, you know the rest...
Robert Irwin, The Getty Gardens. Irwin can't take credit for that view, but he can entice me every time out of the galleries to check out the seasonal nuances and latest blooms in his magnificent botanical wonderland of design. (Yes, this is technically the ninth thing I'm grateful for at the Getty...but it's unmissable!).
I hope none of you will suffer the devastation of fire or other natural disasters. May the holiday season bring you opportunities to connect with old friends, even those found within the walls of your local museum. Have you been to either Getty museum? What's your favorite piece? I'd love to hear...
(Images via Getty Center website unless otherwise credited)