Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Le Greek, C'est Chic

I had a wonderful weekend at the fabulous Getty Villa in Malibu.


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Friday night, I scored tickets to Elektra, a play inspired by the Sophocles version written by Timberlake Wertenbaker. Electra is the annual outdoor production of the Getty Villa - each fall they do a classical tragedy or comedy in the Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater, a classical outdoor theater based on ancient prototypes.


I was glad that Mr. Insom could make the performance with me, or else I would have had to gone with someone else like my dad, and that would be kind of weird.

Here's the plot. Elektra's mom Clytemnestra has her husband (Elektra's father) King Agamemnon killed. Elektra mourns and laments his death and lives for the day when her brother Orestes will return and exert justice by avenging her father. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the sheer anguish and emotion with elements of the Greek argument structure. It was like I was watching Law and Order: 400 B.C. The play does speak to the all-consuming effects of vengeance and how it can eat away at the soul, but as both Mr. Insom and I agreed, there's some shit you can't let slide.

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Tickets are currently sold out, but I called Saturday morning and lo and behold, they had two tickets available. :) If you're interested in watching it, they sometimes get tickets released, so if you're lucky and/or persistent, you might be able to see it too! It was really good and I highly recommend it. If you go, the seats are general admission and there isn't a bad seat in the house. Bring lots of warm clothing. Like I was wearing a scarf, a pea coat, one glove (don't ask), a hooded sweatshirt, jeans, and ski socks and had a blanket on my lap. I guess my Michigan invulnerability to cold has finally wore off.

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The next day we went back to the Getty Villa to check out their new exhibition on the art of Greek theater. More Greek! Parking is $15 (yikes!) but admission to the Villa is free. One important point: You have to get your timed tickets ahead of time. You can't just show up without a ticket or you'll get turned away.

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When we walked in, a couple had just started doing what appeared to be an engagement photo shoot. The Getty Gestapo put an end to that real quick.

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The museum is dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria. I must admit, that I had preconceived ideas of what a museum specializing in antiquities would be - a bunch of broken statues with no noses and boring labels. But I'm happy to report that I was wrong.

Well, mostly wrong.

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I mean, come on. Does this statue really need to be here? No head, arms, or legs? A headless armless torso? They really need to put this back in storage.


After seeing all that drama on Saturday night, I was in the mood for some light-hearted comedy. This is supposed to be comedy, but to me this old man looks terrified.

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Now we're talking. Hee hee.

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Showing someone your ass is always funny, I guess.

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The Getty Villa was recently renovated and opened in 2006. It was modeled after the Villa dei Papiri, a first-century Roman country house in Herculaneum buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

The grounds of the Villa are beautiful. You have views of the Pacific Ocean and paths weave between the gardens, fountains, and statues. Shame it wasn't one of our typically beautiful Southern California days with bright blue skies.


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Lots of cool architectural details, like the beautiful floors.

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This stunning floor is a replica from the Villa dei Papiri. It is composed of alternating triangles of Numidian yellow and africano or dark gray Lucullan marble.

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There were some lovely ladies on display.

This is the head of Julia Titi, taughter of Emperor Titus (ruled A.D. 79-81). Apparently, real jewelry once adorned her head.

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This Roman bust is extremely well preserved, especially for being so delicate. Made in 150-160 A.D., it showcases the artist's skill in the three different ways the surface of the marble is finished - textured for the hair, highly polished for the skin, and smooth for the clothing.

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Here is the hall of men. I took it as my mission to find the hottest man in the room and the one that hopefully had other redeeming qualities.

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This guy must have been quite the looker back in the day. Hot. This is Emperor Caligula.

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Wait a sec - the label says that "this idealized portrait bears little resemblance to the negative descriptions provided by Roman writers; it is sculpted in the serene, Classical style favored by his family, the Julio-Claudians." Ugh. How disappointing. He'd totally be one of those "athletic, thick hair, average height" trolls that are on Match.com if he were around today.


This guy seems like a better contender.

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Emperor Commodus (180-185 AD) of Gladiator fame. It's such a shame that 80% of my knowledge of the ancient world has come from movies.




You can see how much detail the curatorial staff provides on the labels. It's not just Bust of Man, Marble, 180 A.D. They often provide artistic details about the pieces as well the historical, socioeconomic, or cultural context that each object is embedded in. I find that sort of background so interesting and it really helps me appreciate the object better.

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But back to judging the men on their hotness. Not hot.

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This is the bust of an old guy from A.D. 90-110 whose features "convey gravitas (dedication to civic duty) and severitas (self-discipline), qualities admired by the Romans." I say they convey fug.

Although the artists did great work with the adults, they weren't too good capturing kids, in my humble opinion.

Like this


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reminded me of the tattoos I've seen on the interwebs.



This kid looked a little better, even with the severe bowl haircut


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but this one was sort of creepy, with the missing eyes and all.

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Let's go back outside to cleanse the visual palette, shall we?

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Um, file these under crazy eyed statues...




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One highlight was all the stuff about wine - a whole gallery's worth.



Judging by the artifacts they left behind, the Greeks and Romans seem like a fun bunch of people to party with.

Bacchus with his consort Ariadne.



There were lots of "interesting" wine cups on display.

Here we have the "Wine Cup with A Sexual Encounter", about 470 B.C.

Says the helpful label:
"This wine cup depicts a sexual encounter between a young man and a woman who is probably a hetaira (professional entertainer). Complementing the erotic pleasures found at symposia, such scenes frequently decorated vessels designed for use at these parties."

When I think of symposiums, I think of those boring panels at conferences where people stand behind lecterns and try to figure out how to get the Powerpoint to work for 14 minutes. But apparently back in the day they were opportunities to lounge around on couches, get drunk, and have fun with prostitutes. Where did we go wrong?

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"Wine Cup with a Satyr", 520-510 B.C. Get your freak on, girl.


Naked young guy with naked older man. Rock on.

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This poor guy's had a little too much to drink and is puking all over his staff. But at least he hasn't forgotten to completely walk around with no pants on.

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And we have a jug depicting a singing man peeing into a jug held by his naked servant. Because a party ain't a party unless someone's peeing in a red plastic solo cup, or whatever the contemporary equivalent is.

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Then it was time to put an end to the frivolity and move on to the warriors.

I loved this piece - "Storage Jar with Two Warriors"

Again the label provides some interesting context: "The composition on this storage jar - an armed warrior on his knees, threatened by the weapon of an attacker - was favored by Greek vase painters. The scene recalls literary accounts of hand-to-hand combat between Greek heroes and their Trojan adversaries in Homer's epic poem The Iliad, which recounts events of the Trojan war."

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I'm so glad they brought that up, because my first thought when I saw that jar was the Brad Pitt fight scene from Troy.


I liked this little Roman gladiator guy that might have been carried as a productive amulet in 100-200 A.D.


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So cute, yet tough and ready for business.

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Beautiful detail on this jar.

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Warrior lion takes no prisoners.



Then we found the kids area. Well, the sign said "family" and since we're a family of two adults, we didn't feel the least bit self-conscious about going in and playing.

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First step was to make etchings from raised drawings. Fun. We had to hunker down to sit in the small kiddie chairs, but we made it work.

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But then something else caught our attention. Using some handy props, you could make cool silhouettes and make poses alongside cutouts of running men and an angel so you'd look like the pottery we'd been staring at. Neat-o.

Like this dad is posing trying to kill his daughter. Hmm.



I had to wait for some other dad to go before it was my turn. He was just holding his baby and sticking it in the silhouette, trying his best not to get in the frame. Super lame. Own it! I had to show these chumps how it was done. I grabbed a Trojan helmet, a shield, and sword and went to town.



As Tyra says on ANTM, it's all about the extension.

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Extend!

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Pose from your finger tips!

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Use the entire space!

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Smize!

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Ah, good times. Then we drew on pottery, Grecian style.

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Here's Mr. Insom's contribution. (Alec is also known as doggy insom)

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When we walked back into the galleries, we got a kick out of this piece. It kind of looks like Mr. Insom's masterpiece.

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I loved these decorative vials that were used for holding aromatic oils. The detail on this little piece was exquisite. So fragile! This piece of Corinthian pottery was made in 650-640 B.C.

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After walking around for a couple of hours, we were starving. My initial plan was to complete our Greek weekend with the LA GreekFest in downtown LA, but we were ravenous. We headed to the cafe before leaving the Villa.

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There are tables inside, but the courtyard's where it's at.

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He got the Caprese Style Roman Burger - beef steak tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil leaves, aioli, balsamic gastrique with a side of garlic fries. It was fantastic - nice and juicy.

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I got the Sweet Corn Ravioli - Crispy pancetta, wild arugula, truffle cream sauce. It was good and I enjoyed the pancetta, but I kind of wanted Mr. Insom's burger.

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We were both happy with dessert - a sweet bruschetta - grilled sourdough, semi-sweet chocolate, market berries, fresh mint cream. Delicious.


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We ate our delicious food outside and gazed at the ocean in the distance.

It was a really fun day - a perfect way to spend time together. The Villa is so much better than the Getty Center, in my humble opinion. I highly recommend a visit!

9 comments:

weezermonkey said...

I laughed so much while reading this.

Thank you.

{grace} said...

Ditto Weezermonkey!

I'm still all giggly. Great pics too!

HaveShoesWillTravel said...

You are so cultured!

amber said...

You always bring the funny! So freaking hilarious. :)

Feminist Gold Digger said...

Prostitute cups are my favorite kind of cups.

wan said...

i am still snickering at your michael jackson-esque ensemble.

A said...

This has inspired me to check out some more museums here in Philly! I'm positive my commentary won't be half as funny as yours.

dapotato said...

OMG. i am reading this like a year late, but so much win in this post.

laughing so hard, and i really needed to laugh. thank you.

and thanks to p and his drawing of doggy insom.

oh and i LOVE wandering the villa. don't love the art so much but may need to look again w/a sense of humor. omg. still laughing.

Long Cường Vũ said...

very beautiful, i like it!!!
I have a few files paintings
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