Thursday, February 26, 2009

Getty Goodness

My good friend Nellie was visiting Los Angeles for a national art history conference. She arrived a few days earlier so we could play. Nellie recently accepted a position as a curator... now all she has to do is finish the dissertation! Go Nellie! Even though she's been to LA a couple of times, she's yet to visit the Getty. So after a lunch on the beach and a stroll on the Santa Monica Pier, we headed to the hills.

The Getty is absolutely breathtaking. The day had started off cloudy, but by hour 2, the skies were blue and the views were spectacular. The Getty Center consists of the museum open to the public as well as research centers.

We decided to take the architecture tour of the grounds.

Cathy, our tour guide.

The most striking thing about the Getty campus is the use of the natural travertine. The travertine that covers much of the Getty hails from Bagni di Tivoli, Italy. It changes color depending on the time of day - it's a whitish color during the morning and mellows to a honey colored beige in the afternoon. Some of the pieces were cleft-cut with a crazy sharp guillotine to provide an interesting jagged texture, and others are smooth.

Apparently the cleft cut stones can reveal cool looking fossils. Look! Leaves.

(image from Charles S. Rhyne, Reed College -

I tried to find some on my own, but came up short.

Each of the primary squares are 30 by 30 inches. The smaller paving stones that make up the walkways are perfect multiples.

In addition to stone, the center uses metal in the form of aluminum. The undulating curves provide a nice contrast to the straight lines of other parts of the Getty.

Although the Getty can appear whitish during certain times of the day, a true white, as evidenced by the tram station in the picture below would actually be rather glaring.

The only splash of color in the architecture is the trellis near the restaurant. Why is it pale purple? To pay tribute to James Stirling, the late English architect, who was a friend and a finalist who lost out to Meier for the Getty job. Aparently Stirling used a lot of color in his work.

Speaking of color, check out this monstrosity.
This Lichtenstein sculpture "Three Brushstrokes" stands out. And not in a good way.

A travertine portal frames the view toward the ocean and announces the entry towards the Research building. Apparently on the shortest day of the year, the sun sets right in the middle of the frame.

The Getty was built in a posh neighborhood. And the posh neighbors didn't want trucks of mud going down their posh streets. So it was built as a "balanced site", meaning that all the dirt that was dug up on the hill was used elsewhere on the site (like for filling canyons). Waste not, want not.

The actual art of the Getty is rather humdrum to me. I prefer contemporary art. Once you've seen one Jesus painting, you've seen them all. Sure, they're pretty and all, but they all look the same to me. Boring.

This painting caught our attention.

The modern styling of a peasant woman cut through all the idealized images of plump little cherubs and lounging ladies.

See what I mean?



I liked the sketching gallery that was available for visitors. They rotate the featured works on display and provide visitors with all materials. Nellie demurred, and I knew any efforts of mine wouldn't make the display wall, so we passed.

About here is where my iphone died. No more pictures. Sad.


Ann Marie said...

I've been meaning to check out the Getty for years. Thanks for the reminder that I still need to do so!

HaveShoesWillTravel said...

What a beautiful building. I'll have to visit when I finally make it out to California.

Grace said...

I confess that I have still not been to the Getty! My husband went with a friend years ago and I was jealous, lol. This is a reminder for me to go.

WeezerMonkey said...

You guys haven't gone? Ever?!

Well, it's been ages since I've been. I smell a GTG. ;)

A Feminist Gold Digger said...

I could not agree more about the art at the Getty. So fecking boring. Love the building though.