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.


August 4, 2008

It has been hot here in Los Angeles. The sun is relentless. And we don’t get much sympathy, so there is no use complaining.

And anyway, visitors to the Getty can always cool down beside our many fountains. Heck, I feel better just looking at this photo by James Pan.

Photograph courtesy of James Pan

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.

Looking for Meaning

July 8, 2008

Todd Walker, the writer of this blog post, reveals something interesting about the nature of looking at art. Often, attentive viewing can add to the meanings we associate with our own experience. And in turn we bring our attitudes to the experience of art.

In this case, having discovered Camilo José Vergara‘s photographs such as the one above in an exhibition at the Getty, Walker remembered seeing similar buildings in his travels. Through the act of photographing and calling attention to such modest places, the artist asks big questions: What separates “high” church buildings and their inhabitants from these impoverished congregations?

Walker ponders his temptation to view such churches as more authentic than “high” places of worship. Does poverty confer a closer relationship to God, he asks?

Image © Camilo José Vergara 1980
Gift of Nancy and Bruce Berman
Camilo José Vergara
American, Chicago, IL, 1980
Chromoge 9 x 13 in.

Interactivity before the Digital Age

July 1, 2008

19th century English

Have you ever looked at a person’s face and immediately drawn conclusions about his or her personality or intelligence? Of course you have. In the 19th century, people even made a parlor game of it, using paper-doll-like faces, substituting different lips, ears, and noses, to often humorous effect.

While looking for paper dolls, this blogger discovered such an interactive device, called a physionotrace, on the Getty Web site. There, you can play with it and many other strange historical interactive Devices of Wonder like magic lanterns, chromotropes, thaumatropes, anamorphic images, and choreutoscopes. Plus, you’ll increase your vocabulary and impress your friends!

Image: Physionotrace, 19th century, England. Getty Research Library, Werner Nekes Collection, 93.R.118

What Traffic?

June 26, 2008

Friday night traffic in Los Angeles can rattle even the most diehard Angelino. This transplanted San Franciscan knows an escape route: Climb high up above it all, and revel in the company of others enjoying the beginning of their weekends, art, music, and drinks. And look down in pity at all those trapped on the 405.

She’s talking about the Getty’s Fridays off the 405.