Interiors and Exteriors
Art and Design
Objects and Antiquities

Thursday, November 29


The J. Paul Getty Museum comprises two locations : the Getty Center in LA and the Getty Villa in Malibu.  The Museum collection began in 1938 when J Paul Getty acquired his first piece at auction in London.  As his oil empire and wealth grew he moved his collection, which he housed in his ranch- style home during the 1950-60s, to the Malibu Villa constructed in the 1970s.  Getty died in 1974, but his museum continued to grow when, in 1982, it inherited a $1.2 billion endowment, making it the richest in the world.  A new location was built, the Getty Center, and the Villa underwent renovations until 2006.  

The wealth of this institution is made very apparent by the building and the grounds.  Architect Richard Meier designed this amazing modernist complex which sits on the hill top of the Santa Monica  Mountains (isolated and elevated from the city).  He decided on beige coloured, cleft cut, textured, fossilized travertine stone to cover the entire exterior of the building, steps and walkways.  The centre also features natural light as one of the main architectural elements.  "A computer-assisted system of louvers and shades adjusts the light indoors. The painting galleries on the museum's upper level are all naturally lit, with special filters to prevent damage to the artworks." Unbelievable.  The Getty Center is definitely an LA destination.

The art collection is modest, leaving me feeling a bit disappointed that the inheritance hasn't been spent more rigorously on acquisition.   However, the art industry is complex and the Getty is one of  a few wealthy collectors vying for a limited number of masterpieces. The museum is young and there is lots of room for it to grow.  The Getty Center houses European paintings, drawings, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, decorative arts, and European and American photographs.  I found the exhibition of illuminated texts titled  The Art and Devotion in the Middle Ages to be a highlight.

No comments:

Post a Comment