Visit the Getty’s New Blog, The Iris

October 25, 2010

Thanks for visiting! This blog is no longer updated, so come visit us over at the Getty’s new blog, The Iris, Views from the Getty. Launched in April 2010, the Iris is intended make the Getty’s vast resources of art and expertise more accessible—with behind-the-scenes stories, tips on what’s new and noteworthy, and discussions of the Getty’s work around the world.

Visit us at http://blogs.getty.edu/iris/.


Reflections on You

December 22, 2008
Photo courtesy of Justinline

Photo courtesy of Justinline, http://www.justinline.com

As the Getty Center’s 10th Anniversary draws to an end, so does this blog. For almost a year I have listened to your conversations on the Web about the place and what we do here. What have I learned?

Perhaps I am most struck by the quantity, quality, and variety of photographs that visitors post. And how often people talk about the unique beauty of this place. It takes them by surprise. Perhaps one doesn’t often go to a museum expecting to be overwhelmed by its physical setting, the quality of light, architecture, and gardens.

Conversely, it is rarer to find visitors who write about the art. I’ve thought a lot about that. Is it because art is visual and therefore difficult (or unnecessary?) to put the thought and emotions it evokes into words? Or perhaps some are intimidated by art? I don’t know.

On the other hand, several visitors have remarked that when they looked at Vincent Van Gogh’s Irises, they cried. They almost never say why. Is it because they know about the artist’s melancholy life? Do viewers feel a special, physical relationship with Van Gogh because his brushstrokes are so passionately there? Do they think: “Van Gogh was right here: right in front of this canvas, just like I am now.” Is there a trace of immortality in that?

And if they were as familiar with the stories behind other works of art, would there be more conversations?

As the economic crisis has deepened, there have been more comments about the Getty Center providing solace. For a little while one can be on a high hill, overlook Los Angeles, and regain a bit of perspective. I wonder how many of our visitors are thinking like this one:

If you spend enough time walking around here, you may temporarily forget that you are unemployed, the economy is a mess and it is three o’ clock in the afternoon on Tuesday.

Thanks, all, for sharing your thoughts with us this year. We look forward to many conversations with you in the future.


Art Appreciation for Dogs

December 22, 2008
Guide Dog at Getty Center

Photo courtesy of Robby-Dobby

It’s not often that Getty Center visitors come in the four-legged variety.

Oh, we do have goats come to visit, and also canine security officers with ID badges.

And we once had a focus group to which a participant brought her guide dog, who humbly waited under the table. During lunch, I managed to “accidentally” drop a few crumbs, which magically disappeared.

But still, as one frequent visitor relates, everyone is delighted when he and his guide dog, Dobby, come to the Getty Center. Apparently, Dobby loves negotiating the garden paths, but it seems we need to do more canine outreach when it comes to art appreciation.

So, for Dobby and all the other dogs reading this, here are some works of art from the Getty’s collection that you might like:

Jean-Étienne Liotard, Maria Frederike van Reede-Athlone, The J. Paul Getty Museum

Jean-Étienne Liotard, Maria Frederike van Reede-Athlone, The J. Paul Getty Museum

Joseph Wright of Derby, John Whetham of Kirklington, The J. Paul Getty Museum

John Whetham of Kirklington, Joseph Wright of Derby. The J. Paul Getty Museum

William Eggleston, Algiers, Louisiana, © Eggleston Artistic Trust, The J. Paul Getty Museum

Algiers, Louisiana, William Eggleston. The J. Paul Getty Museum. © Eggleston Artistic Trust

Or, perhaps the next one will get Dobby’s attention…

Jean-Baptiste Perronneau, Magdaleine Pinceloup de la Grange

Magdaleine Pinceloup de la Grange, Jean-Baptiste Perronneau. The J. Paul Getty Museum


Our Amazing Visitors

November 20, 2008
Photo courtesy of P.S.Zollo

Photo courtesy of P.S.Zollo

One of our more gregarious recent visitors tells a story of how eager she was to connect with other visitors while she was at the Getty Center. Since she especially likes to practice her French, it seemed too good to be true when a huge French tour group appeared in the galleries.

You’ll have to read for yourself how her story ends. Suffice it to say it involved singing the spiritual “Amazing Grace” in Korean. Naturellement.

As you may have seen from this blog, every day is different at the Getty. But it’s not only because of the changing seasons or exhibitions. It’s our amazing visitors who add that special sauce, too!


Nature’s Art

November 4, 2008
Photo courtesy of Michael Lynton

Photo courtesy of Michael Lynton

The excitement of Fall is in the air. At the Getty Center it means a new crop of visiting scholars, even more events to attend, and of course, Nature’s splashing out in myriad colors.

No need to travel to New England for autumnal glory–as you’ll see with these glimpses of the scenery from visitors.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Sorensen

Photo courtesy of Andrew Sorensen

Photo courtesy of Bug in Box

Photo courtesy of Bug in Box

Photo courtesy of Scott Olson

Photo courtesy of Scott Olson

Photo courtesy of Matthew Marco

Photo courtesy of Matthew Marco

Photograph courtesy of Paul830212

Photo courtesy of Paul830212

Photo courtesy of eyduck

Photo courtesy of eyduck


Asleep at the Getty

October 21, 2008

Photo courtesy of smartnoggin

Ah, it seems our posts have slowed down a bit. Maybe we’ve been asleep at the wheel, as they say. But imagine working in a place where your visitors are having a great time, enjoying art, having lunch and maybe a glass of wine… and the next thing you know, they’re taking nice little naps. Meanwhile, YOU have to keep working.

Photo courtesy of Richard Wanderman

Look closely, and you’ll see lots of slackers here.

Photo courtesy of Richard Wanderman

They are in good company–look at this self-portrait by artist Joseph Ducreux. Not exactly industrious.

Joseph Ducreus, Self-Portrait, Yawning, French, before 1783, The J. Paul Getty Museum

Self-Portrait, Yawning, Joseph Ducreux, before 1783. The J. Paul Getty Museum

We even have some actual beds in our galleries–talk about sleeping as a fashion statement!

Bed, France about 1775-1780

Bed, French, about 1775-80. The J. Paul Getty Museum

Not to be outdone, this painting makes sleeping seem positively elegant:

John William Godward, Mischief and Repose, English, 1895

Mischief and Repose, John William Godward,1895. The J. Paul Getty Museum

Well I guess we had better keep working while all this napping goes on. Otherwise we might end up like this:

Walker Evans, New York City, 1932, The J. Paul Getty Museum

New York City, Walker Evans, 1932. The J. Paul Getty Museum


Visitors Are Saying…

September 23, 2008

Photo courtesy of Ann Fain

Museums are intensely interested in finding out what their visitors really think. While we still have old-fashioned comment cards, now Web tools like blogs and Twitter give us a much richer sense of visitors’ perspectives.

Perhaps the most frequent type of comment is from longtime Angelinos who somehow only recently made it to the Getty Center. They are often taken aback by the beauty of the place, and vow to come more often.

Here’s a small sampling of some other recent observations.

“I am only at the tram at the Getty Center and I am already impressed. This is what the future should look like.” [Tweet by wordcore]

“Just learned there’s an exhibit on Bernini at the Getty. He’s one of the most important artists, ever. Seriously. Go to the Getty!!!” [Tweet by lisabeee]

“i love this museum a lot! i’ll say this is the best museum i visited in the states. i had to choose between six flags (a theme park) and paul getty center (museum), christine and i chose the museum, and i’m really glad we did.” [Blog by Amy K. Schubert]

“Wandering around the Getty, feeling like I’m in Jerusalem somehow.” [Tweet by alvalyn]


Delicious Details

September 12, 2008
Vincent van Gogh, Irises, detail, courtesy of califdweller

Vincent van Gogh, Irises, detail, courtesy of califdweller

When reproductions of works of art became widespread through photography in the early 20th century, some critics worried that people would no longer feel the need to see the original. The same fear arose with the advent of the Web and its easy access to countless works of art.

But I have a hunch that if you look at these juicy details of Vincent Van Gogh’s Irises, taken by enthusiastic Getty Museum visitors, you might just have an urge to beat a hasty path to see it in the flesh.

Vincent van Gogh, Irises, detail, courtesy of califdweller

Vincent van Gogh, Irises, detail, courtesy of califdweller

Vincent van Gogh, Irises, photo courtesy of Jean-Francois Chenier

Vincent van Gogh, Irises, detail, courtesy of Jean-Francois Chenier

Ah, but the irony of humans! When we finally see a great original, what do we do?

Photo courtesy of iamhannah

Photo courtesy of iamhannah

BTW, here is info on photography at the Getty. Read the rest of this entry »


Epiphany in Cacophony

August 13, 2008

There was a time when art museums saw themselves as virtual temples of quiet contemplation. After all, for the eyes and mind to be able to respond deeply to works of art, they need a certain amount of peace and quiet.

Fridays Off the 405 at the Getty Center

Photo courtesy of Christopher J Soltis

Nowadays, however, art museums can be more like bustling town squares, where all manner of high energy, high decibel activities might take place. A recent visitor to the Getty recounts how the cacophony of crowds, dancers, and music actually led him to an unexpected insight into the art he came to view.


Eyes Need to Have Fun, Too

July 30, 2008

It’s good to be reminded that visiting an art museum is an occasion for the play of imagination. Art can almost function like an exercise machine for the eyes and mind. Approaching art playfully has its rewards. Looking and marveling can be fun!

This family, for instance, clearly enjoyed their day celebrating a birthday by being inquisitive and interacting with what they saw.


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