Virginia specializes in German photography between the two World Wars and contemporary photography that privileges objectivity and materiality. She received her B.A. and M.A. in art history from the University of California at Santa Barbara and her Ph.D. from Columbia University, New York, with a dissertation on Albert Renger-Patzsch. Since joining the Department of Photographs in 2005, she has organized over a dozen exhibitions, including monographic shows drawn from the collection on the work of August Sander, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Sigmar Polke, Irving Penn, and Ed Ruscha, and loan shows on Lyonel Feininger’s photographs and Ray K. Metzker and the Institute of Design. In 2015, she organized the exhibition Light, Paper, Process: Reinventing Photography, with accompanying publication.
ABOUT THE COLLECTION
The Department of Photographs was established in 1984 with the acquisition of several of the most important private collections in the world, including those of Bruno Bischofberger, Arnold Crane, Volker Kahmen/Georg Heusch, and Samuel Wagstaff, Jr. Through a continuing program of acquisitions by purchase and donation, the Getty Museum has assembled the finest and most comprehensive corpus of photographs on the West Coast.
The collection is particularly rich in works dating from the time of photography’s invention in England and France in the late 1830s and early 1840s. International in scope, it encompasses substantial holdings by some of the most significant masters of the twentieth century active in Europe, the United States, South America, Asia, and Africa. Notable among artists represented are William Henry Fox Talbot, Julia Margaret Cameron, Carleton Watkins, Walker Evans, August Sander, and Robert Mapplethorpe. The collection is also the only curatorial area in the Museum that extends into the twenty-first century with contemporary acquisitions.
For conservation purposes, photographs cannot be kept on permanent display. Rotating exhibitions drawn from the permanent collection and supplemented by international loans are on view in the galleries of the Center for Photographs at the Getty Center.
Search the Photographs Collection
STUDY ROOMPhotographs in the collection that are not on display are available for viewing in the Photographs Study Room, which is open by appointment on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to researchers, students, and the interested public.
Please note: The photographs you wish to examine may be on loan and not available for viewing. Therefore, before making an appointment, please contact us to discuss your area of interest.
To investigate the nature of our holdings:
- Browse photographs in the collection database.
- Consult the book Photographers of Genius at the Getty.
- Consult a list of all makers whose work is represented in the collection (PDF, 11 pp., 208 KB).
The Study Room is closed the month of August and the week between Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
ORDERING IMAGESDigital images of many public domain photographs in the collection are available for download, without charge, under the Getty’s Open Content Program.
Open content images may be used for any purpose; no permission is required.
To request permission to reproduce all other images from the Museum's collection, please see Ordering and Reproducing Images.
SUBMISSIONS REVIEWThe Department of Photographs does not review individual portfolios upon request. Curators review unsolicited submissions on a periodic schedule.
To submit your work for review: Please prepare a packet to be mailed that includes:
- 12 to 15 images (reproductions only; do not send original works of art);
- A CV/resume;
- An artist’s statement or description of the project;
- Reviews and/or publications about your work;
- Return shipment information and postage if you would like the materials you submit to be returned.
Individuals will receive an acknowledgment of receipt of any works submitted, but may not receive further response due to the volume of submissions we receive.
Mail submission packets to:
Department of Photographs
The J. Paul Getty Museum
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90049
Curator / Department Head
Curator / Department Head
APPRAISALSMuseum staff are prohibited from offering appraisals, valuations, or authentication of works of art. These should be carried out by a certified appraiser or reputable auction house.
In accordance with IRS regulations governing charitable institutions such as the J. Paul Getty Museum, curatorial staff may not advise on the value of donations to the Museum collection for tax purposes. However, they can make objects available for appraisal upon the donor’s request.
If a signature is needed for IRS form 8283, the donor should send the form to email@example.com for completion. The registrar will use the date the gift was approved for acceptance into the collection as the date the donated property was received.