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Getty Museum Commissions Los Angeles Artists for February Exhibition

Departures: 11 Artists at the Getty
February 29, 2000 through May 7, 2000

August 3, 1999

LOS ANGELES, CA: The J. Paul Getty Museum announced today that it will present a major exhibition of specially commissioned works produced by 11 outstanding Los Angeles artists in response to works in the Getty collections. Opening February 29, 2000 and continuing through May 7, 2000 in the Getty Special Exhibitions Pavilion, Departures: 11 Artists at the Getty is being organized by guest curator Lisa Lyons.

Artists selected to participate in the exhibition are: John Baldessari, Uta Barth, Sharon Ellis, Judy Fiskin, Martin Kersels, John M. Miller, Ruben Ortiz-Torres, Lari Pittman, Stephen Prina, Alison Saar, and Adrian Saxe. Using the Getty collections as a point of departure, the artists are creating new works spanning a broad stylistic spectrum in a wide range of media including painting, sculpture, photography, film, and video.

John Walsh, Director of the Getty Museum, commented, "For two centuries, museums have been a challenge to artists and sometimes an inspiration. The Getty’s galleries have been a place to learn, translate, react, protest. It seems a good idea to start the new millennium with an invitation for experiments. We hope the show will help build our relationship with Los Angeles artists."

Discussing the project, exhibition curator Lisa Lyons said, "Departures is intended to explore the potent and sometimes surprising ways in which the art of the past can inform contemporary art. Equally important, the new works produced for the exhibition will offer valuable insights into the Getty collections."

Lyons, who is based in Los Angeles, has been a consultant to the Getty since 1996. Previously, she was a curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and Director of Art Programs at the Lannan Foundation in Los Angeles. At the new Getty Center, she has overseen the commissioning of major public works of art and organized related exhibitions. These include Edward Ruscha's monumental PICTURE WITHOUT WORDS for the lobby of the Harold M. Williams Auditorium; Alexis Smith’s Taste, a mixed-media permanent installation for the Restaurant at the Getty Center, and the 1997-98 exhibition A Matter of Taste; and the forthcoming large-scale sculpture by Martin Puryear for the Getty Tram Arrival Plaza and the related exhibition Martin Puryear: Commission for the Getty Center, scheduled for fall 1999.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Getty is publishing a 72-page, soft-cover catalogue with 16 color and 40 black-and-white illustrations containing a forward by John Walsh, and an introduction and essays by Lisa Lyons on each artist’s commissioned work. The catalogue will be available for purchase in the Getty Museum bookstore for $24.95. Educational events related to the exhibition, including lectures, gallery talks and film screenings, will be announced in early fall.

Following are brief descriptions of the 11 projects commissioned for the exhibition:

John Baldessari
Photographically blown up to mural scale and held in place by a gigantic specimen pin, Albrecht Dürer’s diminutive drawing, Stag Beetle (1505), will assume monumental presence in Baldessari’s work for the exhibition.

Uta Barth
Barth will create a series of multi-panel photographs capturing variations of a single view of the interior of her home. Focusing on issues of perception and what Barth calls "ambient vision," these images suggest her affinity for works by two other artists represented at the Getty: the Impressionist painter Claude Monet (Wheatstacks, Snow Effect Morning, 1891) and environmental artist Robert Irwin (Central Garden, 1997).

Sharon Ellis
To create her 4x5-foot landscape painting, A Vision of Spring in Winter, Ellis is studying a wide variety of works in the Getty collection, ranging from paintings such as Lawrence Alma Tadema’s Spring (1895) and Caspar David Friedrich’s A Walk at Dusk (1832-35) to early photographs such as William Henry Fox Talbot’s Oak Tree (mid-1840s).

Judy Fiskin
Fiskin asks, "What happens when two cataclysmic forces—one cultural, the other natural—converge on Los Angeles at the same time?" Her witty, 17-minute videotape will provide a fictionalized account of the opening of the Getty Center in December 1997 and the concurrent arrival of El Niño.

Martin Kersels
A series of large-scale color photographs will picture Kersels in the company of a life-size, three-dimensional reproduction of the Getty Kouros. These works may give new meaning to the phrase "wrestling with history."

John M. Miller
The abstract painter will create a suite of three large-scale paintings on canvas. Titled Prophecy, Atonement, and Sanctum, they suggest Miller’s interest in the miniature devotional images created by the 15th-century French painter Jean Fouquet for The Hours of Simon de Varie (1455).

Ruben Ortiz-Torres
A group of stereographic photographs in the Getty Research Institute collections depicting Cuba during the Spanish-American war (1899) inspired Ruben Ortiz-Torres to create works that explore the connections between the Americas, the complicated relationships between the past and present, and the developing ability of technology to represent reality. Tentatively titled Che’s Chevy (Zamba del Che [Remix]), the project will have two parts. On view in the galleries will be a 3-D video starring two 1960 Chevy Impalas: Che Guevara’s Impala, which is currently housed in a Havana museum, and a customized dancing low-rider. The low-rider will be installed outdoors and will perform several times during the course of the exhibition.

Lari Pittman
The latest in a series of lushly ornamented polyptychs that the artist has produced since the early 1990s, Pittman’s monumental 5-panel painting will suggest his affinity for several works in the Getty collection, including James Ensor’s hallucinatory masterpiece Christ’s Entry into Brussels in 1889 (1888).

Stephen Prina
Prina will shoot a short 16-mm film in the Getty galleries. Featuring an original score and a performance by the artist, the film will focus on the relationship between works by two artists particularly noted for dramatically illuminated night scenes: Georges de La Tour (The Beggars’ Brawl, 1625-30) and Gerrit van Honthorst (Christ Crowned with Thorns, circa 1620).

Alison Saar
Carved wood and rusted metal are the materials that Saar will use for her sculpture, Afro-dite, a towering female figure created in response to the classical deities represented in the Getty’s collection of antiquities.

Adrian Saxe
Saxe is creating a multiple-part porcelain and stoneware centerpiece designed especially for an 18th-century French table in the Getty collection, and a pair of related sidepieces to be displayed on brackets. The elaborate finishes that Saxe will use stem from his careful study of the Getty’s Sèvres porcelain.

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About the Getty:

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

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