January 24, 2005
LOS ANGELES—The Getty Research Institute (GRI) collects with a scholarly audience in mind. Its special collections form the core of the Research Library at the Getty Research Institute, which is one of the largest art libraries in the world. The GRI’s holdings include important primary source material such as original documents, personal notes and letters, prints, rare books, photographs, and sketchbooks. This material provides a direct link to the artists, offering researchers unparalleled insight into their minds, motivations, and environments. It also documents the history and development of art and culture. The following are some recent additions to the Research Library’s special collections.
The Archive of Edmund Teske (American, 1911–1996)
Eighteen archival boxes of documentation including business and personal letters and records, poetry, prose writing, sketches, essays, news articles, transcriptions of interviews, speeches, a variety of printed ephemera, financial data, teaching materials, calendars, audio and video tapes, and a small number of books. The archival collection is complemented by six volumes of photocopies that Teske compiled over several years as his visual diary. It is an exhaustive chronicle of the career of this innovative 20th-century artist whose early career was
marked by his professional association with Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1867–1959). His later period in Los Angeles, which spanned the second half of the 20th century, reflected the “California fusion” of contemporary art, cinema, and culture. Besides supporting research on the artistic development of Teske himself, this archive provides insight both into the creative atmosphere of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin Fellowship as well as the multifaceted culture of Los Angeles.
Augustus and Alice Dixon Le Plongeon Archive on 19th-century Archaeology and Ethnography in Mexico and Peru
The archive comprises the records of two amateur archaeologists noted for their pioneering exploration of ancient sites in Central and Latin America. Augustus Le Plongeon (French, 1826–1908) and his wife Alice (English, 1851–1910) were among the earliest explorers of Inca sites in Peru and the remains of Mayan cities in the Yucatan. They undertook excavations, photograph and casting campaigns, and collected artifacts, presenting the results in publications and lectures. The archive contains original records covering their travels from the 1860s through the early 1900s, including diaries, unpublished scholarly manuscripts and notes, correspondence, and extensive photographic documentation of ancient architecture and sculpture, city views, and ethnographic studies. Although Augustus Le Plongeon’s interpretation of the remains of New World civilizations did not ultimately stand the test of time, his photographs documenting intricate relief sculpture, glyphs, and architectural monuments at major sites such as Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Ake, and Mayapan remain crucial evidence in the study of Mayan culture. The archive is a valuable source for the history of archaeology, the history of photography, and 19th-century ethnography in Peru and Mexico, containing key evidence of the critical relationship between photography, archaeology, and ethnography that began to emerge at this time.
Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard (French, 1802-1872), Album Photographique de l’artiste et de l’amateur, Lille, Imprimerie photographique de Blanquart-Evrard, 1851
Published in fascicules between 1851 and 1853, Blanquart-Evrard’s Album Photographique de l’artiste et de l’amateur contains 36 salted-paper photographs, produced both by anonymous amateur photographers and recognized practitioners, including Charles Marville, Ernest Benecke, and Maxime du Camp. Acquisition of this seminal document in the history of photography, whose provenance can be traced to Blanquart-Evrard’s own studio, complements both the J. Paul Getty Museum’s collections on the early history of photography and the Getty Research Institute’s holdings on the history of the photographically illustrated book.
The Collection of Marcia Tucker
The American curator, critic, and art historian Marcia Tucker (b. 1940) achieved prominence as one of the most provocative and influential voices in the art world of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Tucker’s collection documents the full scope of her professional activity during her career as curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art (1968–76) and as director of the New Museum of Contemporary Art, which she founded in New York City in 1976 and directed through 2000. Extensive artists’ correspondence in this archive includes regular exchanges with the American conceptual artist John Baldessari (b. 1931), the American painter Nicholas Africano (b. 1948), the American sculptor and installation artist Richard Tuttle (b. 1941), the American painter Jack Tworkov (1900–82), and many others. Taken together with her personal notebooks and video documentation of interviews and installations, Tucker’s collection attests to her unique role as a late-20th-century impresario who shaped contemporary art toward fluidity among media and greater social and political engagement.
Gengzhi Tu (Illustrations of Tilling and Weaving) Beijing, 1696
A rare and well-preserved hand-colored copy of one of the most famous Chinese illustrated books. Commissioned by the Kangxi Emperor, the subjects are two essential Chinese agrarian industries: the cultures of rice and silk. This first edition was produced in 1696 at the imperial printing press, Wuying Dian, in the Forbidden City (Beijing, China). Forty-six woodblock illustrations by Zhu Gui, based on watercolor paintings by Jiao Bingzhen, are paired with poems on the rice growing and sericulture by Emperor Kangxi. As an amalgum of essential texts and images, the book is an important publication for researchers of Qing dynasty culture. It is especially significant because its illustrations show the influence of western perspective on Qing-period art (transmitted by Jesuit missionary contacts). The woodcuts were copied and used to decorate porcelain plates and vases in Europe. The volume augments the small, highly select collection of books, prints, and maps that elucidates the interactive communications between China and Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. The volume is on display through April 3, 2005 in the J. Paul Getty Museum’s exhibition Imagining the Orient as a source for chinoiserie, and in fall 2006 it appears in the GRI’s exhibition The Garden of Perfect Clarity as an example of the artistic dialogues between China and Europe.
Artists’ books by Raymond Pettibon
Artist Raymond Pettibon, who was a Getty visiting scholar in spring 2004, lives and works in the Los Angeles area. This small collection documents Pettibon’s photocopied books that appeared between 1985 and 2001. The titles include: Cars, TV, Rockets, H-bomb—You name it, 1985; ’S not fake ! ’S real !, 2001; Like Death Valley, 1985; New Wavy Gravy, 1985; Pig Cupid, 1985; Short Teats, Bloody Milk, 1985; The Express Sex Train, 1985; The Navigator’s Wives, 1985; Wein, Weib und Gesang, 1985; New Wavy Gravy 2 (as opposed to Old Wavy Gravy), 1985; Dance of the Damned..., 2002; Plot Burial by Josh Bayer (aka Sketchy) and Raymond Pettibon, 2001; and Selfishness with drawings by Raymond Pettibon, 1985.
* Note, the GRI holds a significant and growing collection of artists’ books, particularly by California artists. An upcoming exhibition titled The Artist Turns to the Book, on view at the Getty Center, May 24–Septmeber 18, 2005, will feature contemporary artists’ books drawn from the GRI’s special collections.
James Ensor (Belgian, 1860-1949), L’entrée du Christ à Bruxelles (1898)
This etching, based on Ensor’s painting Christ’s Entry into Brussels in 1889 (held in the collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum), discloses harsh commentary on religion, politics, and the arts as the artist reimagines Christ’s entry into Jerusalem in his own contemporary Brussels. Christ, surrounded by an aura of light at the center of the image, sits astride a donkey amid a long procession of people in costumes and carrying banners representing various social, political and religious groups. A technical and formal tour de force, this important etching is a gift from Dr. and Mrs. Richard A. Simms to the GRI. Like the painting, Ensor’s print played a significant role in the development of Expressionism.
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