J. Paul Getty Museum
During fiscal year 2016, the Museum received numerous awards and accolades for a number of its exhibitions and publications, as well as its music and theater performances. Nor did its major acquisitions go unnoticed: in its January 2016 issue, Apollo magazine listed two of the museum’s newly acquired works from the previous calendar year—Édouard Manet’s Jeanne (Spring), 1881, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Bust of Pope Paul V, 1621—as finalists for their acquisition of the year. The enthusiasm of the public for activities like these was reflected in the record attendance levels—over two million visitors—experienced at our two sites, the Getty Center and the Getty Villa.
In September 2015, the Getty Museum was pleased to announce a positive resolution of a long-standing dispute with the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America over the ownership of eight illustrated pages from the Zeyt’un Gospels by T’oros Roslin (Armenian, active 1256-1268). These works have been in the Getty’s collection since 1994. Under the settlement, the Getty acknowledged the Armenian Apostolic Church’s historical ownership of the eight pages and, in turn, the Church donated the works to the Getty where they will continue to be preserved and made accessible to visitors and scholars of future generations.
The Museum’s collections continued to grow through purchase and donation. In the past year some five hundred works of art were accessioned, including a number of gifts and works purchased with funds provided by the Museum’s support councils and other donors.
Perhaps the greatest highlight of the year was the purchase at auction ofOrazio Gentileschi’s Danaë and the Shower of Gold (1621–1623), a majestic painting that ranks among the finest masterpieces of the Italian Baroque period to come on the market in recent years. It was one of three pictures commissioned in 1621 by the nobleman Giovanni Antonio Sauli for his palace in Genoa. The group included Lot and his Daughters, which has been in the Getty’s collection since 1998. The two paintings are now reunited in a gallery in the Museum’s East Pavilion.
Other major acquisitions included a significant and highly engaging Flemish manuscript, Livre des faits de Jacques de Lalaing, made about 1530–40. The vibrant text and many illuminations, which includes a frontispiece by Simon Bening (Flemish, about 1483–1561), the most gifted Flemish illuminator of the period, relate the adventurous life of Jacques de Lalaing (1421–1453), celebrated knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece and perhaps the most famed tournament fighter of the Middle Ages. The acquisition was made in honor of Thomas Kren, the founding curator of the Department of Manuscripts who, after thirty-five years of service to the Museum, retired as associate director for collections in October 2015.
Numerous drawings were also added to the collection, including two rare landscapes in blue ink by the Flemish artist Jacob Savery (Flemish, 1566–1603) representing the months of March and August; and a large and mysterious charcoal and pastel work by Odilon Redon (French, 1840–1916), Head within an Aureole (about 1894–95), which joined the collection in time to be featured in the exhibition Noir: The Romance of Black in Nineteenth-Century French Drawings and Prints (February 9–May 11, 2016).
The collection of sculpture and decorative arts made two significant acquisitions. An exquisite and extremely rare alabaster representing Saint Philip by a Netherlandish sculptor known to scholars as the Master of the Rimini Altarpiece carved around 1420–30, was likely made for an altarpiece featuring all twelve of the Apostles. Delicately carved and still bearing traces of its original polychromy, the sculpture added a true masterpiece to the Museum’s collection of late medieval art. A combined gift and purchase brought to the Museum an important group of eighteenth-century French decorative arts. Assembled by Dr. Horace W. Brock, one of the world’s foremost economists, the acquisition constituted the most significant enhancement to the decorative arts collection in many years. The thirty-one works, which had been on long-term loan to the Getty, include seven clocks; six gilt-bronze mounted porcelain, feldspar, and porphyry objects; five works in gilt bronze; a carved gilt-wood console table; a porcelain inkstand; and a leather portrait medallion of Louis XIV. These objects substantially enhance our extraordinary holdings of French decorative arts, which is renowned as one of the most important outside of France.
The Museum has continued to expand its collection of photographs, the only area in which we collect twentieth- and twenty-first-century art, in many cases through the generosity of donors. With the support of the Photographs Council, the Museum purchased a group of fifty-one works by contemporary Argentinian photographers, in preparation for an exhibition in the fall of 2017 as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA. This new body of work will ensure a vibrant and enriching exhibition, as well as giving the Museum a significant foothold in Latin American photography. Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser, two founding members of the Museum’s Photographs Council, donated fifty-nine photographs by Minor White (American, 1908–1976). Many of these were featured in a 2014 exhibition of White’s work. Leo and Nina Pircher, likewise members of the Photographs Council, donated to the Museum a large body of work by Ralph Gibson (American, born 1939). Thanks to an anonymous donor, the Museum also added forty-one photographs by some of the most significant Chinese photographers working in the past two decades. This gift broadens and deepens its existing holdings in this area, introducing a number of new artists to the collection. The collection of nineteenth-century photography was also dramatically strengthened through the acquisition of thirty-nine French and British photographs and paper negatives assembled by collector Jay MacDonald. Dating from the 1840s through the 1860s, these works represent some of the most impressive architectural and landscape images produced in the early years of photography.
One of the first exhibitions the Museum presented this fiscal year was also one of the most heralded. Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World (July 28–November 1, 2015), organized by the Getty with the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, brought together over fifty of the rarest surviving bronzes of the Hellenistic age from collections across Europe
and the United States. The Los Angeles Times named Power and Pathos “one of the ten best art exhibitions at L.A. museums in 2015: Woven Gold: Tapestries of Louis XIV (December 15, 2015–May 1, 2016).” and instructed readers “Miss it at your peril.” The New York Times remarked that it was “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” and the exhibition was a finalist for Apollo magazine’s Exhibition of the Year. The exhibition’s catalogue, edited by Getty curators Jens Daehner and Kenneth Lapatin, was recently awarded the 2015 London Hellenic Prize, which is given annually to an original English-language publication relating to Greece or Hellenic culture. This is the first time in the twenty-year history of the prize that a book on art has received this prestigious recognition. The catalogue was also the runner-up for the College Art Association’s esteemed Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Award.
The Los Angeles Times named another exhibition to its “top ten” list for 2015:Woven Gold: Tapestries of Louis XIV (December 15, 2015–May 1, 2016). Shown exclusively at the Getty, the exhibition presented a spectacular array of grand tapestries from the French state that were collected and commissioned by Louis XIV (reigned 1643–1715). Displayed within his palaces while in residence and in outdoor courtyards on feast days, these monumental hangings embodied and proclaimed the Sun King’s magnificence.
Beginning around 1840, a number of French artists were drawn to shadowy, often nocturnal or twilight scenes in which forms emerge and sink into darkness. This Romantic fascination with a world of irrational fear and darkness was accompanied by the exploration of new forms of subject matter, such as nightmares and nonidealized representations of the poor and working class. At the same time, new drawing materials, such as man-made charcoal, black chalk, and conté crayon greatly expanded the availability of media suited to the representation of these dark subjects. Drawn from the Getty’s holdings, as well as those of local collectors and institutions, Noir: The Romance of Black in Nineteenth-Century French Drawings and Prints (February 9–May 15, 2016) explored the phenomenon of “black” imagery and media in the work of such artists as Rodolphe Bresdin, Maxime Lalanne, Odilon Redon, and Georges Seurat.
In the Center for Photographs, two exhibitions on view from October 6, 2015 to February 21, 2016 showcased the work of six contemporary female Japanese photographers. Ishiuchi Miyako: Postwar Shadows was the first comprehensive survey of the work of self-taught photographer Ishiuchi Miyako (Japanese, born 1947). The show traced her extended investigation of life in postwar Japan and culminated with her current series ひろしま/hiroshima, created seventy years after the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The related publication was also her first English-language catalogue. Shown alongside Ishiuchi’s work, The Younger Generation: Contemporary Japanese Photography presented photographs by five emerging female Japanese photographers whose careers began in the 1990s and 2000s.
Following these two exhibition, the Museum presented Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium (March 15–July 31, 2016). Celebrating the landmark 2011 gift and acquisition of Mapplethorpe’s photographs (acquired in partnership with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and archive from the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, two complementary exhibitions at the Getty and LACMA re-examined the arc of Mapplethorpe’s photographic work from its humble beginnings in the early 1970s to the culture wars of the 1990s. The Getty’s presentation attracted more than 400,000 visitors, becoming the Museum’s most visited photographs exhibition ever.
In support of the Mapplethorpe exhibition, the Museum produced a joint Getty/LACMA website promoting the two exhibitions. Since its debut, the special website, www.Mapplethorpe.LA, has attracted more than 50,000 views. Additionally, the Museum, LACMA, and the Getty Research Institute partnered with HBO for a documentary film on Robert Mapplethorpe that debuted on April 4, 2016. Alongside interviews with Mapplethorpe’s models, friends, and family, the documentary highlighted the exhibition-making process, going behind the scenes into the collection and Mapplethorpe archive.
Following its installation at the Getty and LACMA, the two exhibitions are being combined to travel to Montreal (Musée des Beaux-Arts; September 10, 2016–January 22, 2017), Sydney (Art Gallery of New South Wales; October 28, 2017–February 4, 2018), and Rotterdam (Kunsthal/Rotterdam; April 22–August 27, 2017).
At the Getty Villa, a special collaboration with the Packard Humanities Institute supported the presentation of Greece’s Enchanting Landscape: Watercolors by Edward Dodwell and Simone Pomardi (October 21, 2015–February 15, 2016). The exhibition brought attention to the travels of English antiquarian Edward Dodwell and Italian artist Simone Pomardi through Greece in the early nineteenth century, during which they produced almost one thousand drawings and watercolors, culminating in a series of spectacular panoramas of the monuments of Athens.
In fiscal year 2016, nearly 174,000 students from kindergarten through twelfth grade visited the Getty Museum (approximately 123,000 to the Getty Center and 51,000 to the Getty Villa). Of this number, some 118,000 (68 percent) came to the Museum on buses paid for through our Title 1 bus funding program.
The Education Department also provided free professional development programs to classroom teachers, coaching them on the Getty’s cross-curricular approach which positions art as a gateway into other subjects and competencies. In fiscal year 2016, the department engaged more than 440 teachers and administrators at both sites and on their school campuses, roughly tripling the impact of the prior fiscal year.
In June 2016, the Education Department hosted more than one hundred arts integration stakeholders for a two-day series of discussions on the state of arts integration in schools across California. “Arts Integration+California” explored opportunities to maximize the adoption and effectiveness of arts integration, and in particular the role that museums can play in supporting and amplifying arts integration as a practice and a philosophy. Danielle Brazell, general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, and James S. Catterall, Ph.D., professor emeritus and past faculty chair at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, delivered keynote addresses. Discussion sessions were led by more than twenty-five speakers and facilitators, representing twenty-two organizations from all over the state of California.
The tenth annual theatrical production in the Villa’s outdoor Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater was the west coast premiere of Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, a new production by Pasadena-based The Theatre @ Boston Court, based in Pasadena. A breathtaking reimagining of Euripides’s Medea transported to East Los Angeles, the play was a new adaptation by Luis Alfaro, MacArthur Fellow and critically acclaimed author of Electricidad and Oedipus el Rey.
The play was a great critical success, epitomized by Performing Arts Live: “It doesn’t get much better than this!...brilliantly written...Set in modern day Los Angeles...skillfully directed...at the beautiful Getty Villa outdoor amphitheatre. The casting could not have been better. Not a weak link in this immensely talented ensemble. This is MUST see theater in Los Angeles.” Time Out Los Angeles named Mojada the “#1 theatrical event of 2015.” The play also received numerous awards, including the prestigious Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Director (Jessica Kubzansky), Best Adaptation, Best Lead Actor (Sabina Zuniga Varela as Medea), and Best Production.
In late February, the Museum introduced a new annual lecture program–the Getty Museum Distinguished Lecture. The inaugural lecturer for this program was leading scholar of Impressionism and professor at the University of Dallas, Richard Brettell, who delivered talks over three evenings on three works in the Museum’s permanent collection. Titled “Toward a Modern Beauty: Manet, Gauguin, Cézanne,” each of the talks was very well attended. Expanded versions of the lectures will be published by Getty Publications in the near future.
In conjunction with the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition, the Museum worked closely with the GRI on an evening program in April, featuring legendary singer, poet, author, and Mapplethorpe muse, Patti Smith. The program of Smith’s music and intimate recollections of her friendship with Mapplethorpe was so popular that the Museum was able to schedule a second performance, which like the first, sold out immediately.
Finally, this fiscal year was marked by a number of important changes in senior staff, starting in August with the arrival of the new associate director for collections, Richard Rand. Richard comes to the Getty from the Clark Art Institute in Massachusetts, and replaced one of our longest serving colleagues, Thomas Kren. In April, we announced the appointment of Lisa Clements as the new assistant director for education, public programs and interpretive media. Lisa brings to the Getty more than twenty years of experience in developing educational content, programming, and live experiences for school-age and adult audiences.
Following more than thirty years and a career that started as a Getty intern, Lee Hendrix retired in June from the Museum as senior curator of drawings. In July, Julian Brooks, a twelve-year veteran of the department, would replace Lee. In the conservation departments, Brian Considine retired as senior conservator of sculpture and decorative arts conservation, after thirty-three years of dedicated service to the Museum. Jane Bassett has been named interim department head. Nancy Yocco, a thirty-four year veteran, retired as conservator of drawings, and has been replaced with Michelle Sullivan as assistant conservator of drawings. And, from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Getty welcomed Susanne Gänsicke as senior conservator of antiquities at the Getty Villa, following the retirement of Jerry Podany in January after a distinguished career of some thirty-seven years in the department