Press Room Search

Current Press Releases
Archived Press Releases




News Home Current Press Releases

Drawings on View at the Getty Reveal the Artist's Eye for Composition

Mise en Page: The Art of Composing on Paper
December 17, 2002 through March 2, 2003

November 21, 2002

Los AngelesOne of the most highly prized aesthetic qualities of old master drawings—the finely balanced distribution of forms across a sheet of paper—is explored in Mise en Page: The Art of Composing on Paper, at the Getty from December 17, 2002 through March 2, 2003.  Selected from the Getty’s permanent collection, the exhibition features 34 drawings by European masters from the Renaissance through the 1700s, including Leonardo da Vinci, Rubens, and Goya.  The works highlight some of the essential and unique traits of Western drawing as it developed over four centuries.

"The joy of drawing really comes out in these sheets," said Lee Hendrix, curator of drawings at the J. Paul Getty Museum. "They actually reveal how the artist is thinking as he works; and in the most preliminary sketches as well as more conscious compositions, these drawings have a way of attracting our eyes toward the movement of the artist’s hand on the page."

French for  "placement on the page," mise en page refers to the way an artist’s eye arranges figures and uses areas of blank space around them.  Master draftsmen used paper both as a two-dimensional surface and to suggest indeterminate depth.  Mise en Page traces the technique from its earliest expression in the Renaissance to its peak of refinement in the graphic art of 18th-century France.

Mise en page developed into a widespread aesthetic goal by the 18th century, when Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684–1721) was identified as its master.  He composed elegant preparatory sketches that unfold across the sheet. His drawings often assumed the finality of independent works of art—a quality collectors began to prize—as exemplified by Two Studies of a Flutist and One of the Head of a Boy (about 1716–19).

The artful placement of motifs, and the juxtaposition of image and text on a page, are fully realized throughout Francisco de Goya’s renowned albums of drawings. In No puede Ya con los 98 Anos (He Can No Longer at the Age of 98), from one of his albums, Goya (1746–1828) enhanced the sense of isolation of the figure by placing it low on the page and suggesting the void around him. The frail man seems almost to bear the weight of the paper on his back.

COLLECTIONS:

The J. Paul Getty Museum’s collection of drawings began in 1981, when Rembrandt’s red chalk study of Nude Woman with a Snake was purchased.  The collection now comprises over 600 sheets, including two sketchbooks, and represents the different schools of Western European drawing from the 14th century to the end of the 19th, with emphasis on the work of the most important and accomplished draftsmen.  Recent major additions to the collection include Head of a Tahitian Woman (about 1892) by Paul Gauguin (1848–1903) and Arles: View from the Wheatfields (1888) by Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890). Selected works from the collection are presented in four thematic exhibitions each year.

The J. Paul Getty Museum collects in seven distinct areas: Greek and Roman antiquities, European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture, decorative arts, and European and American photographs.  The Museum's goal is to make the collection meaningful and attractive to a broad audience by presenting and interpreting the collection through educational programs, special exhibitions, publications, conservation, and research.

RELATED EVENTS        
All events are free.

Artist-at-Work Demonstrations
Drop by as artist Stas Orlovski demonstrates how an artist thinks on paper.
Thursdays, 1:00–3:00 p.m.: February 6, 13, 20, and 27
Sundays, 1:00–3:00 p.m.: February 9, 16, and 23, and March 2
East Pavilion Art Information Room

Point of View Talks
Brian Apthorp, a comic book artist for DC Comics and Dark Horse Comics, discusses the exhibition.
Friday, February 7, 6:00 and 7:30 p.m. in the Museum galleries. Sign up at the Museum Information Desk beginning at 4:30 p.m.

Note to Editors: Images available upon request.

# # #

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.

Sign up for e-Getty at www.getty.edu/subscribe/ to receive free monthly highlights of events at the Getty Center and the Getty Villa via e-mail, or visit our event calendar for a complete calendar of public programs.

The J. Paul Getty Museum collects in seven distinct areas, including Greek and Roman antiquities, European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts, and European and American photographs. The Museum's mission is to make the collection meaningful and attractive to a broad audience by presenting and interpreting the works of art through educational programs, special exhibitions, publications, conservation, and research.