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IN FOCUS: EXPRESSIONS
May 22—October 7, 2018

LOS ANGELES—From Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, to Edvard Munch’s The Scream, to Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother, the human face has been a crucial, if often enigmatic, element of portraiture. Featuring 45 works drawn from the Museum’s permanent collection, In Focus: Expressions, on view May 22 to October 7, 2018 at the J. Paul Getty Museum, addresses the enduring fascination with the human face and the range of countenances that photographers have captured from the birth of the medium to the present day.

The exhibition begins with the most universal and ubiquitous expression: the smile. Although today it is taken for granted that we should smile when posing for the camera, smiling was not the standard photographic expression until the 1880s with the availability of faster film and hand-held cameras. Smiling subjects began to appear more frequently as the advertising industry also reinforced the image of happy customers to an ever-widening audience who would purchase the products of a growing industrial economy. The smile became “the face of the brand,” gracing magazines, billboards, and today, digital and social platforms.

As is evident in the exhibition, the smile comes in all variations—the genuine, the smirk, the polite, the ironic—expressing a full spectrum of emotions that include benevolence, sarcasm, joy, malice, and sometimes even an intersection of two or more of these.

In Focus: Expressions also probes the role of the camera in capturing un-posed moments and expressions that would otherwise go unnoticed. The photograph provides a frank moment, one that confronts the viewer with its candidness and calls to mind today’s proliferation and brevity of memes, a contemporary, Internet-sustained visual phenomena in which images are deliberately parodied and altered at the same rate as they are spread.

Perhaps equally radical as the introduction of candid photography is the problematic association of photography with facial expression and its adoption of physiognomy, a concept that was introduced in the 19th century. Physiognomy, the study of the link between the face and human psyche, resulted in the belief that different types of people could be classified by their visage. The exhibition includes some of the earliest uses of photography to record facial expression.

The subject of facial expression is also resonant with current developments in facial recognition technology. Today, mobile phones and social media applications even support portrait mode options, offering an apprehension of the human face and highlighting its countenances with exceptional quality.

In addition to photography’s engagement with human expression, In Focus: Expressions examines the literal and figurative concept of the mask. Contrary to a candid photograph, the mask is the face we choose to present to the world.

In Focus: Expressions is on view from May 22 to October 7, 2018 at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center. This exhibition is curated by Karen Hellman, assistant curator of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Pathways to Paradise
May 1, 2018-August 5, 2018

The pages of medieval manuscripts reveal a dynamically interconnected world filled with real and imagined ideas about foreign peoples and places. Buddhists, Muslims, and Christians living across Europe and Asia conceived paradise as a place of perfect harmony, but the path for locating such a site or achieving this state of mind varied between these religions. By exploring the terrestrial and celestial realms, this exhibition highlights the spiritual motivations for creating and owning portable and devotional artworks.

Beyond the Nile: Egypt and the Classical World
March 27–September 9, 2018

Egypt, the most ancient of the Mediterranean civilizations, held a great fascination for the Greeks and Romans. This major international loan exhibition explores the artistic interplay between these cultures from the Bronze Age to Roman times. The installation includes royal Egyptian stone vessels sent to Minoan Crete and Mycenaean Greece, Archaic Greek pottery and sculpture inspired by Egyptian models, portraits in Egyptian and Greek style created during Greek rule in Egypt, and religious images and luxury goods made for Roman patrons in Italy.

This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Supported by the Director’s Council of the J. Paul Getty Museum.

REMBRANDT AND THE INSPIRATION OF INDIA
March 13–June 24, 2018

Among the most surprising aspects of Rembrandt’s prodigious output are twenty-three surviving drawings closely based on portraits made by artists working in Mughal India. These drawings mark a striking diversion for this quintessentially Dutch “Golden Age” artist, the only time he made a careful and extensive study of art from a dramatically different culture. Rembrandt and the Inspiration of India, on view March 13 – June 24, 2018, at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, explores for the first time the artist’s Mughal drawings, exhibiting them alongside the Mughal paintings that inspired them to assess the impact of Indian art and culture on Rembrandt’s artistic interests and working process as a draftsman.

“Rembrandt may be one of the most famous painters in European art history, but there are still remarkable discoveries to be made about his work,” says Timothy Potts,

director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “This exhibition is a case in point, demonstrating how Rembrandt turned to the art of India to produce some of his most intriguing images. This vivid example of cultural exchange reminds us how artists on different continents take inspiration from one another, a reality that of course continues to this very day.”

The exhibition pairs twenty of Rembrandt’s surviving drawings depicting Mughal emperors, princes, and courtiers with Indian paintings and drawings of similar compositions, which had been brought to Amsterdam from the Dutch trading post in Surat. Rembrandt’s portraits reveal how his contact with Mughal art inspired him to draw in a newly refined and precise style.

“The critical eye and attentive curiosity Rembrandt turned towards Mughal portrait conventions still captivates viewers today. At this late stage in his career, around 1656-1661, this meticulous rendering is exceptional,” says Stephanie Schrader, Curator of Drawings and organizer of the exhibition.

Rembrandt and the Inspiration of India also examines how global trade and cultural exchange impacted artists working for Mughal emperors in India, who were in turn inspired by Dutch and Flemish printed images of European rulers and scenes of daily life. Among the treasures found in a Dutch East India ship, which sank en route to China, was a package that contained four hundred prints by and after Dutch and Flemish artists. This astounding quantity suggests that Dutch merchants thought that art would help them gain with single-tone drawings and calligraphy. Rather than copy the European compositions exactly, Mughal artists adapted them to their own artistic purposes, as seen in Keshav Das’s Roman Hero (about 1590-95), based on prints by the Dutch artist Hendrick Goltzius. The use of these prints illuminates the range of images that found a positive reception in India long before Rembrandt made his creative copies.

The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (r. 1627-1658) was well known for his patronage of the arts — most notably the building of the Taj Mahal. Shah Jahan’s rule of Mughal India spanned the years that Rembrandt worked in Leiden and Amsterdam. In his eight drawings of Shah Jahan, more than he made of any other Mughal ruler, Rembrandt carefully studied the trappings of imperial magnificence, as seen in on Horseback (Shah Jahan) (about 1656-61). The poetic claim that Shah Jahan was “Royal Rider of the Piebald Steed of the World” was not lost on Rembrandt.

Rembrandt’s drawings after Mughal compositions constitute the largest group, by far, of his copies after other works of art. Moreover, they are his only surviving drawings on expensive Asian paper, which suggests the high value the artist himself placed on them. Shikoh (about 1656-60) is quite different from the typically known “late Rembrandt” style of drawing. His careful attention to details of clothing, jewelry, turbans, and footwear pays tribute to Mughal artists’ exceptional artifice.

On almost every level, Rembrandt and the Indian court painters operated in completely different worlds. Yet such differences did not prevent these innovative artists from appropriating foreign imagery to reflect upon and enrich their own more familiar artistic practice and culture.

Rembrandt and the Inspiration of India is curated by Stephanie Schrader, curator in the Department of Drawings. The exhibition is on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center from March 13 –June 24, 2018.

The exhibition is generously supported by City National Bank. With additional support from Maria Hummer-Tuttle and Robert Holmes Tuttle.

Paper Promises: Early American Photography
February 27 - May 27, 2018

The early history of paper photography in the United States is a formative but rarely studied aspect of the medium’s evolution. While Americans were at first slow to adopt Europe’s negative-positive photographic practices, the country’s territorial expansion and Civil War increased demand for images that were easy to reproduce and distribute. The exhibition Paper Promises: Early American Photography, on view February 27 – May 27, 2018 at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, features rare 19th-century paper negatives and paper photographs from this important era of American experimentation, including portraits of some of the country’s most notable political and cultural figures, as well as searing images from the Civil War.

“In the mid-nineteenth century, photographs did much more than merely document the development of the nation; increasingly they became central to debates about the U.S. and its place in the world,” explains Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “The photographs on view in this exhibition offer a rare insight into the forces and movements that shaped the country’s character at a formative stage of its development.”

Today, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat create a thirst for casual selfies, views of our surroundings, and documentation of the most mundane aspects of daily life. Yet reproducible photography was not initially popular in the United States. In the earliest years of the medium Europeans quickly adopted techniques that enabled multiple photographs to be printed from negatives, but Americans initially preferred singular formats intended for intimate viewing, such as those produced directly on metal or glass.

A few intrepid American photographers experimented with negative-positive techniques in the 1850s. The earliest photographs they produced used papers sensitized with silver salts that resulted in matte images well suited to register a range of textures. Paper Promises showcases dozens of rarely exhibited salted paper prints.

To secure the widest possible market for photographs that could be printed in multiple, entrepreneurial photographers made salted paper prints for a variety of purposes: scientific investigation, celebrity portraiture, tourism, historic preservation, corporate and self-promotion, and firsthand documentation of newsworthy events. Their ambition to develop a technique suited to the quickened pace of modern life is apparent in a salted paper print made around 1860 by an unknown photographer, in which a group of men and women gather excitedly aboard the front of a train. The railroad was a potent symbol of progress, and it was anticipated that photography, like locomotives, might connect Americans to places and people far away.

In the 1850s, however, alarmist reports that photographic negatives were being used to counterfeit currency caused widespread anxiety. At the time, banks printed their own money and thousands of different paper bills were in circulation. Around forty percent of the bills that passed through American hands were counterfeit, so banknotes began to be thought of as little more than flimsy “paper promises.” The exhibition features photographic counterfeits from the era, revealing a previously unstudied aspect of initial American resistance to photographic reproducibility. Though “paper promises” was originally a derisive phrase, the promise of paper photography soon swept the nation.

Also included in the exhibition are examples of other pioneering photographic techniques, including daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, albumen silver prints, a pannotype, and an ivorytype.

As the use of negatives to produce photographs in multiple sizes and shapes began to catch on, photography studios rushed to secure famous sitters in the hope of gaining wide distribution for popular images. The exhibition demonstrates how celebrities of the era grew savvy about circulating carefully crafted images of themselves. For example, an 1860 portrait of abolitionist Frederick Douglass by an unknown photographer emphasizes the gravitas of the fiery orator and prolific writer. Douglass sat for portraits throughout his life, countering racialized stereotypes by circulating dignified images of himself.

Family photographs also became increasingly cherished as the medium gained in popularity. At a time when life expectancy was short and child mortality common, photographic portraits were thought of as especially precious souvenirs. The exhibition features several intimate portraits of families and children, some of which were carefully hand-tinted to further strengthen the sense of personal connection.

Universities capitalized on the ability to produce images in multiple and compiled volumes of students and staff into what is today the familiar yearbook format. An example from about 1852 by John Adams Whipple (American, 1822-1891) was commissioned by Harvard – a proto-Facebook more than 150 years before Mark Zuckerberg’s start.

As disputes over state and federal sovereignty as well as American Indian rights intensified, photographers sought how best to portray the people and places most frequently in the news. Photographs of several treaty negotiations will be on view, such as images of the first Japanese delegation to the United States, and an 1858 portrait by Alexander Gardner (American, born Scotland, 1821-1882) of a delegation of Upper Sioux who traveled to Washington, D.C., for treaty talks. While most of the delegates pictured wore contemporary clothing, Gardner kept costumes on hand to outfit visitors in “traditional” attire, in keeping with East Coast ideas about Native dress. Photographs of American Indian sitters proliferated as their autonomy became a highly contested matter of public debate.

In the territorial struggles of the 1860s, families torn apart by the Civil War sought personal mementos that could be easily shared and saved, and paper photographs served that purpose well. Soldiers had their portraits made upon enlistment, and civilians clamored for images of the battlefield. Images of slaves and of Abraham Lincoln were increasingly wielded as tools for political change, and the exhibition will spotlight several examples. Freedom’s Banner. Charley, A Slave Boy from New Orleans (1864) by Charles Paxson (American, died 1880) is one of many small-scale images carefully composed and widely circulated to encourage empathy with the plight of enslaved families. The photographs were sold to support education for freed slaves and to sustain support of the abolitionist cause.

“As we struggle to adapt to today’s digital revolution, with its capacity for unchecked manipulation and proliferation of images, it’s valuable to look to an earlier era in which ideas about photography and its role in society were similarly exerting profound effects,” says Mazie Harris, assistant curator of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum and curator of the exhibition. “Because early paper photographs became an integral part of everyday life, not many survive. So this is a unique opportunity to see rare images from a tumultuous period of American history.”

Paper Promises: Early American Photography is on view February 27, 2018 - May 27, 2018 at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center. The exhibition is curated by Mazie Harris, assistant curator of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum. A book of the same name and authored by Dr. Harris, with contributions from scholars of American history and photography, will be released by Getty Publications in February 2018.

Cut! Paper Play in Contemporary Photography
February 27–May 27, 2018

Interaction with paper plays an integral role in the practice of many photographers working today. Some create paper models with images gleaned from current events, popular magazines, or the internet for the express purpose of photographing them. Others cut, layer, fold, and/or assemble representational photographs to introduce tactile or narrative elements. The exhibition features works by Thomas Demand, Christiane Feser, Daniel Gordon, Soo Kim, Matt Lipps, and Christopher Russell.

A Queen’s Treasure from Versailles: Marie-Antoinette’s Japanese Lacquer
Through January 6, 2019
South Pavilion, Plaza Level

Free | No ticket required

A Queen’s Treasure brings to the Getty precious examples of Japanese lacquer from the personal collection of the French queen Marie-Antoinette (1755–1793). Her collection of small lacquer boxes was one of the finest assembled in Europe, and she considered them to be among her most cherished possessions. The elaborate and costly works reveal a fascinating example of the queen’s sophisticated taste and demonstrate the consistent level of achievement attained by Japanese lacquer artists during the mid-Edo period (about 1681–1764) when these pieces were created.

PASTELS IN PIECES
January 16–July 29, 2018

In the eighteenth century, paper was made by hand, pulled in sheets that were no wider than the span of a paper maker’s arms. Artists who worked in pastels at first worked on a small scale, but as they began to compete with oil painters for major portrait commissions, some started piecing together multiple sheets of paper to create large, continuous surfaces for their work. Pastels in Pieces, on view January 16–July 29, 2018 at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, explores the practice and purpose of “piecing,” inviting visitors to take a closer look at how eighteenth-century pastels were made.

“The piecing together of multiple sheets of paper began as a way to enlarge the artist’s canvas and to accommodate ever grander compositions,” says Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “The Museum owns the largest pastel made in the eighteenth century, a portrait of the magistrate Gabriel Bernard de Rieux by Maurice-Quentin de la Tour. One of the highlights of our collection, it stands over six feet tall and is pieced together from twelve sheets of paper. Quentin de la Tour lavished many hours on the details of the sitter’s costume and luxurious surroundings, producing a portrait that
rivals those executed in oil on canvas by his contemporaries. It forms the centerpiece of the exhibition that will explain how these splendid objects were made.”

This piecing technique quickly came to serve purposes other than scale, as artists recognized the opportunity to work up various elements of their compositions separately and then paste them together à la Photoshop. Quentin de la Tour’s, Portrait of Louis XV in Armor before Tournai (1745), offers a striking example of the artist’s tendency to draw his subject’s head separately from the rest of the portrait, generally posed by a model. In this case, the procedure likely helped him reduce his demand on the monarch’s time while still capturing a lively likeness.

Since pastel cannot be erased and is less forgiving than oil paint, layering sheets also offered artists a way to make corrections or changes, papering over early versions and mistakes. For his Portrait of a Woman Sewing (1746), Charles-Antoine Coypel pieced together four large sheets, with additional strips added along the edges. Perhaps the most interesting use of piecing in this work occurs in the sitter’s bracelet, adorned with an image of her husband. This tiny portrait-within-a-portrait occupies its own sheet. It is possible that the artist, unhappy with an earlier treatment of this detail, covered it up with a new one.

“In preparation for this installation, drawings conservator Michelle Sullivan and I created maps to help us keep track of the various sheets,” explains Emily Beeny, associate curator of Drawings at the J. Paul Getty Museum, and curator of the installation. “The joins between the sheets are often cleverly concealed under thickly applied pigment or through camouflaging elements in the design, and so our maps, reproduced on object labels, will help visitors identify the various constituent sheets.”

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