J. Paul Getty Museum
Opened at the Getty Center between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016.
- Touching the Past: The Hand and the Medieval Book
July 7–September 27, 2015
Precious historical artifacts, manuscripts preserve some of the finest examples of medieval art. Seen in libraries and museums behind glass, these books have been largely removed from the realm of touch, making it easy to forget that their lavishly illuminated pages were once turned, stroked, stitched, and sometimes even sliced by generations before us. Drawn primarily from the permanent collection, Touching the Past: The Hand and the Medieval Book explored manuscripts as tangible, tactile objects that invited touch and were handled—reverently, carelessly, obsessively, and critically—by medieval audiences.
- Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World
July 28–November 1, 2015
During the three centuries between the reigns of Alexander the Great and Augustus, artists around the Mediterranean created innovative, realistic sculptures of physical power and emotional intensity. Bronze—with its tensile strength, reflective effects, and ability to hold the finest detail—was employed for dynamic compositions, dazzling displays of the nude body, and graphic expressions of age and character. This unprecedented international loan exhibition united about fifty significant bronzes of the Hellenistic age.
Global Fine Art Awards named Power and Pathos Best Ancient Exhibition; it was an Apollo Magazine Exhibition of the Year finalist; and the exhibition catalogue was a finalist for the esteemed College Art Association’s Alfred H. Barr Jr. Award. Critical press commentary included: “one of the ten best art exhibitions at L.A. museums in 2015” and “Miss it at your peril” (A.Times); “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” and “this is one of the best exhibitions of sculpture you may ever see” (New York Times); “It is the first show of its kind, and will probably be the last in our lifetimes” (caa.reviews); and “A remarkable curatorial achievement”, “One of those rare museum shows that is worth getting on a plane to see” and “A veritable Murderers’ Row of Greek bronzes” (The Wall Street Journal).
Bank of America was the National Sponsor of this touring exhibition. The Los Angeles presentation was also supported by the Getty Museum’s Villa Council, Vera R. Campbell Foundation, and the A. G. Leventis Foundation.
- Louis Style: French Frames, 1610–1792
September 15, 2015–January 3, 2016
What makes a French frame French? Drawn from the Museum’s substantial collection, this exhibition presented a survey of the exquisite carved and gilded picture frames from five periods—Louis XIII, Louis XIV, Régence, Louis XV, and Louis XVI. Tracing their development from restrained to elaborate, dynamic forms to classically inspired style, the array represented a splendid compendium of French design, ornament, craftsmanship, and construction and gilding techniques.
This exhibition, along with other displays at the Getty, commemorated the 300th anniversary of the death of Louis XIV, France’s magnificent Sun King.
- Art of the Fold: Drawings of Drapery and Costume
October 6, 2015–January 10, 2016
This exhibition of drawings from the permanent collection explored how artists regularly employed drapery studies as part of the representation of the human figure. The expressive potential of drapery was often harnessed to convey a mood, such as religious fervor, surprise, or anger. The exhibition also addressed how various representations of costume indicate or mask status in the social hierarchy.
- Ishiuchi Miyako: Postwar Shadows
October 6, 2015–February 21, 2016
Self-taught photographer Ishiuchi Miyako (Japanese, born 1947) stunned the Japanese photography establishment in the late 1970s with grainy, haunting, black-and-white images of Yokosuka—the city where Ishiuchi spent her childhood and where the United States established an important naval base in 1945. Fusing the personal and political in her work, Ishiuchi interweaves her identity with the complex history of postwar Japan that emerged from “shadows” cast by American occupation. Presenting photographs made over the last forty years, this exhibition included Ishiuchi’s most recent series, ひろしま/hiroshima, seventy years after the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
- The Younger Generation: Contemporary Japanese Photography
October 6, 2015–February 21, 2016
Several young Japanese photographers garnered attention in the 1990s when their bold, colorful, often provocative pictures of themselves and their immediate worlds were collectively dubbed “girl photographs.” This exhibition celebrated the emergence of five talented female photographers from Japan whose careers began in the 1990s and 2000s—Kawauchi Rinko, Onodera Yuki, Otsuka Chino, Sawada Tomoko, and Shiga Lieko. Selected series by these artists evoked the influence of Ishiuchi Miyako, whose work was showcased in the companion exhibition, Ishiuchi Miyako: Postwar Shadows.
- Eat, Drink, and Be Merry: Food in the Middle Ages and Renaissance
October 13, 2015–January 3, 2016
The cultivation, preparation, and consumption of food formed a framework for daily labor and leisure in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Illuminated manuscripts offered images of the chores that produced sustenance, cooking techniques, popular dishes, grand feasts, and diners of different social classes. Food had powerful symbolic meaning in Christian devotional practice as well as in biblical stories and saintly miracles, in which it nourished both the body and the soul.
- Greece’s Enchanting Landscape: Watercolors by Edward Dodwell and Simone Pomardi
October 21, 2015–February 15, 2016
“Almost every rock, every promontory, every river is haunted by the shadows of the mighty dead,” wrote the English antiquarian Edward Dodwell of his travels in Greece in the early-nineteenth century. During this time, he and Italian artist Simone Pomardi produced almost one thousand illustrations. Selected from a vast archive of their watercolors and drawings in the collection of the Packard Humanities Institute, this exhibition brought to life a vanished world that enchanted European travelers and inspired their passionate pursuit of classical antiquity. The exhibition culminated with a series of monumental panoramas of Athens rendered with exceptional detail.
- In Focus: Daguerreotypes
November 3, 2015–March 20, 2016
A “mirror with a memory,” a daguerreotype is a direct-positive photographic image fixed on a silver-coated metal plate. The earliest form of photography, this revolutionary invention was announced to the public in 1839. In our present image-saturated age, it is difficult to imagine a time before the ability to record the world with the blink of an eye or the touch of a fingertip. This exhibition of works drawn from the Getty Museum’s permanent collection alongside loans from two private collections presented unique reflections of people, places, and events during the first two decades of the medium.
- Woven Gold: Tapestries of Louis XIV
December 15, 2015–May 1, 2016
Colorful and glittering tapestries, handwoven after designs by renowned artists, were the ultimate expression of status, power, taste, and wealth. As patron, heir, and collector, Louis XIV (reigned 1643–1715) vastly augmented the prestigious French royal collection of tapestries. Displayed within his palaces while in residence and in outdoor courtyards on feast days, these monumental hangings embodied and proclaimed his magnificence. With rare loans from the French state, this major international loan exhibition, exclusive to the Getty, presented a selection of grand tapestries that evoke the brilliance of the Sun King’s court.
The Los Angeles Times called Woven Gold “one of the ten best art exhibitions at LA museums in 2015.”
This exhibition was organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum in association with the Mobilier National et les Manufactures Nationales des Gobelins, de Beauvais et de la Savonnerie.
Support for this exhibition was provided by the Hearst Foundations, Eric and Nancy Garen, and the Ernst Lieblich Foundation.
- Traversing the Globe through Illuminated Manuscripts
January 26–June 26, 2016
This exhibition allowed visitors to embark on a kaleidoscopic journey through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance to consider how illuminated manuscripts and other portable objects—like ceramics, textiles, glassworks, gems, and sculptures—contributed to one’s outlook on the world in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the early Americas. Drawn primarily from the Getty’s collection of illuminated manuscripts, with complementary loans from collections across Los Angeles, the exhibition presented stunning and at times surprising images and a range of ideas about exploration, exotic pursuits, and cross-cultural exchanges in the then-known world.
This exhibition is a finalist for a 2016 Global Fine Arts Award.
- Noir: The Romance of Black in 19th-Century French Drawings and Prints
February 9–May 15, 2016
Beginning around 1840, French artists began depicting shadowy, often nocturnal or twilight scenes in which forms emerge and sink back into darkness. This quest for darkened realms accompanied an exploration of new forms of subject matter, such as dream states and nonidealized representations of the poor and working class, and new black drawing materials, such as man-made charcoal, black chalk, and conté crayon. Using drawings and prints from the Getty’s permanent collection and loans from private and public Los Angeles collections, this exhibition examined how artists such as Rodolphe Bresdin, Maxime Lalanne, Odilon Redon, and Georges Seurat championed these new, dark subjects.
- Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium
March 15–July 31, 2016
Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946–1989) is among the most influential visual artists of the late twentieth century. This major retrospective exhibition reexamined the arc of his photographic work from its humble beginnings in the early 1970s to the culture wars of the 1990s. Drawn from the landmark acquisition made in 2011 from the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, the exhibition mixed Mapplethorpe’s most iconic images with lesser-known photographs. Two complementary presentations, one at the J. Paul Getty Museum and another at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, were designed to highlight different aspects of the artist’s complex personality.
Support for Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium and its international tour was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. The Getty Museum’s presentation was sponsored by Sotheby’s.
This exhibition was awarded the Lucie Award for Curator/Exhibition of the Year and is a finalist for a 2016 Global Fine Arts Award.
- The Thrill of the Chase: The Wagstaff Collection of Photographs
March 15–July 31, 2016
In 1973, with the assistance of his lover Robert Mapplethorpe, Samuel J. Wagstaff Jr. (American, 1921–1987) came to realize that photography was an underappreciated and undervalued art form. Over the next decade, Wagstaff assembled one of the most important private collections of photographs in the world. In 1984, he sold it to the J. Paul Getty Museum, where it became part of a group of major acquisitions that formed the Department of Photographs. This three-gallery exhibition presented a selection of Wagstaff’s collection, encompassing both masterpieces of the medium and obscure works that deserve attention.
- Roman Mosaics across the Empire
March 30, 2016–January 1, 2018
Ancient Roman decor was unique for the elaborate mosaic pavements that transformed entire rooms into spectacular settings of saturated color, mythological imagery, and pure imagination. Geometric patterns and narrative scenes enlivened interior spaces and mirrored the cultural ambitions of wealthy patrons. This exhibition of mosaics from the Getty Museum’s permanent collection presents the artistry of mosaics and the contexts of their discoveries across Rome’s expanding empire from southern Italy to Gaul, North Africa, and Syria.
- In Focus: Electric!
April 5–August 28, 2016
Electrical innovations have radically transformed the rhythm of our days and our experience of darkness. Photographers have been attentive to such changes, capturing both excitement and concern about the electrical forces that energize our lives. Drawn from the Getty Museum’s permanent collection, this exhibition highlighted historic photographs that showcase the allure of artificial illumination, as well as recent photographs that express unease about life tethered to the power grid.
- Unruly Nature: The Landscapes of Théodore Rousseau
June 21–September 11, 2016
Though his reputation was eclipsed in the early-twentieth century with the triumph of Impressionism, Théodore Rousseau (1812–1867) was one of the giants of French landscape painting in the second half of the nineteenth century, and his work was avidly collected for staggering sums across Europe and North America. Bringing together about seventy-five paintings and drawings, this international loan exhibition explored the astonishing technical and stylistic variety of Rousseau’s work, revealing him to be one of the most exciting, experimental, and affecting artists of his day. The LA Times called Unruly Nature “engrossing.”
This exhibition was co-organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.