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Blurring the Line: Manuscripts in the Age of Print
August 6 - October 27
North Pavilion, Plaza Level

Free | No ticket required

The history of the book in the late Middle Ages is a story of competing media as the handwritten and the illuminated encountered the print revolution in Europe. New printing technologies gave rise to a rich period of experimental cross-fertilization during which artists created hybrid works, books printed to look like manuscripts, and painted compositions modeled after prints. This exhibition includes masterpieces of both media, challenging the division between them and considering the culture of the book as technology met artistry.

In Focus: The Camera
July 30 –January 5, 2020

The camera, once a simple wooden box with a primitive lens and cap for controlling light, has undergone enormous changes since its invention, eventually becoming a tool that is in most people’s back pockets. In Focus: The Camera, on view July 30, 2019 – January 5, 2020 at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, explores the evolution of this ingenious device through a selection of historic cameras and photographs.

During the early 19th century, the three essential components of photography—a dark chamber, a light-sensitive substrate, and a method of fixing the image—were used in different ways in the experiments of Nicéphore Niépce (French, 1765-1833), Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (French, 1787-1851), and William Henry Fox Talbot (British, 1800-1877). In subsequent decades, advancements such as flexible film stocks, built-in light meters, motor drives, and megapixels transformed the way the camera captures and preserves a moment in time.

On view in the exhibition will be a number of cameras manufactured in the 19th century to present day, including the simple camera obscura, a daguerreotype camera, a stereo camera, an early roll-film camera, a large portable camera, a miniature spy camera, an early color camera, and the first digital camera marketed to the general public. The exhibition will include text that explains how photographs are created using each of these cameras and techniques. Cameras produced by well-known brands such as Kodak, Leica, Nikon, Hasselblad, and Canon will be displayed.

The gallery will also include a number of portraits, self-portraits, and images of artists at work by famed photographers such as Imogen Cunningham (American, 1883-1976), Dorothea Lange (American, 1895-1965), Lisette Model (American, born Austria, 1901-1983), Helmut Newton (German-Australian, 1920-2004), Edward Steichen (American, born Luxembourg, 1879-1973), Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987), and Edward Weston (American, 1886-1958). These images remind the viewer of the inextricable relationship between the camera and the artist.

In Focus: The Camera is curated by Paul Martineau, associate curator of photographs for the J. Paul Getty Museum. Related events to come.

An Enduring Icon: Notre-Dame Cathedral
July 23 – October 20, 2019
East Pavilion

One of the most recognizable landmarks on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage Sites, Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris has come to symbolize a range of meanings in the cultural imagination: a major religious edifice, a masterpiece of medieval architecture, a repository for important relics and art, a symbol of Paris, and an iconic French landmark.

On April 15, 2019, a massive fire ravaged the 850-year-old cathedral, destroying the medieval wooden trusses supporting the roof, toppling the famous spire and severely damaging the building. Though the structure’s stability remains in question, all the historic relics and works of art–including the celebrated rose windows were saved by the rapid response of emergency workers and Cathedral staff, as well as experts charged with the preservation of the art and architecture.

In recognition of this historic event, the J. Paul Getty Museum will bring together a variety of works of art that showcase the rich cultural legacy of this beloved institution. The special single gallery installation – An Enduring Icon: Notre-Dame Cathedral – will be on view July 23 – October 20, 2019 in the East Pavilion of the Getty Museum.

“The recent fire at Notre-Dame reverberated around the world, with millions of people watching the event unfold live on their screens,” says Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “We thought it appropriate at this moment to illuminate the artistic and cultural impact that Notre-Dame has played in European history, drawing on the rich holdings of the Museum and the Getty Research Institute. The exhibition presents paintings, photographs, engravings, and rare books that commemorate the enduring importance of the Cathedral, which has served as a symbol of Paris for more than eight centuries, through iconoclasm and wars.”

Notre-Dame was built on the Île de la Cité, the largest island on the Seine River, in the center of Paris; construction began in 1160 and lasted 100 years. Since 1769, a milestone situated on the square in front of the cathedral has served as point zéro for calculating distances between French cities and Paris, underscoring the institution’s central importance to France. And, given its scale and location, Notre-Dame has served as the setting for many important historic events.

The Cathedral is at once a magnificent work of architecture and a repository for masterpieces of art. Its exterior portals preserve the most exquisite examples of sculptural ensembles from the 1200s, and its three large rose windows count among the most magnificent stained glass from the medieval period. Inside, the high, pointed arches of the nave and transept, together with the choir and more than thirty chapels, shelter priceless sculptures, paintings, and ecclesiastic furniture. Scenes of the life of Christ, sculpted in stone in the early 1300s, are set around the choir screen while, within the choir, wooden stalls dating from the 1700s shine with delicately carved panels. In the transept and chapels, thirteen large canvases include some of the most ambitious French religious paintings of the period.

At the start of the 1800s, Notre-Dame was in terrible disrepair after the edifice was looted and damaged in the French Revolution. Two impressive personalities helped save the Cathedral, the French writer Victor Hugo (1802-1885), and architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc (1814–1879). The enormous success of Hugo’s novel Notre-Dame de Paris (1831; published in English as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame) sparked renewed interest in the Cathedral, enough to exert pressure on the authorities to address its decrepit condition. A decade later, French architects Eugène Viollet-le-Duc (1814–1879) and Jean-Baptiste Lassus (1807–1857) were selected to oversee a huge restoration effort. After the death of his collaborator, Viollet-le-Duc completed the immense project. Dedicated in 1859, the spire that collapsed during the April 2019 fire counted among Viollet-le-Duc’s additions. “Both Hugo and Viollet-le-Duc were the true orchestrators of Notre-Dame’s revival in the 1800s,” says Anne-Lise Desmas, senior curator of sculpture and decorative arts at the Getty Museum, and curator of this show. “Their contributions henceforth became forever associated with the cathedral’s mystique. The artworks on view in this special installation elucidate the importance of this ‘majestic and sublime edifice… this aged queen of our cathedrals’, as Hugo called it, from its construction in the Middle Ages to its restoration in the 1800s.”

Once. Again. Photographs in a Series
July 9–November 10, 2019

Photographers often record change through images in series. This exhibition features both historical and contemporary artists who have photographed faces and places over minutes, months, or years. Their artworks prompt reflection on the ways the passage of time impacts how we see people and spaces.

Gordon Parks: The Flávio Story
July 9–November 10, 2019

On assignment to document poverty in Brazil for Life magazine, American photographer Gordon Parks encountered one of the most important subjects of his career: Flávio da Silva. Parks featured the resourceful, ailing boy in the heart-rending 1961 photo essay "Freedom's Fearful Foe: Poverty." This exhibition explores that celebrated story, tracing the extraordinary chain of events it triggered and Parks's representation of Flávio over several decades.


Catacumba Favela, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, negative 1961; printed later, Gordon Parks. Gelatin silver print. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council. © The Gordon Parks Foundation

John Martin: A New Acquisition
July 2 - October 6, 2019
West Pavilion, Plaza Level

Free | No ticket required

This single-work display showcases the Getty’s recently acquired Destruction of Pharaoh’s Host by the English Romantic artist, John Martin (1789–1854). The installation explores this fascinating drawing and highlights Martin’s connection to Los Angeles, namely the artist’s influence on generations of Hollywood movie makers, including Cecil B. DeMille and Ray Harryhausen

Ercole de’ Roberti in Focus: Conserving Two Renaissance Masterpieces
June 18–September 1, 2019

Two rare 15th-century paintings by Ercole de' Roberti have recently undergone conservation at the Getty. Newly cleaned, these remarkable works reveal Ercole's absolute mastery of dramatic narrative and perceptive observation of intricate detail, accomplishments which earned him the status of leading painter in his native city of Ferrara, Italy. Discover the fascinating results of the conservation treatment before the paintings return to their permanent home in Dresden, Germany.

Bauhaus Beginnings
June 11–October 13, 2019

The Bauhaus is widely regarded as the most influential school of art and design of the 20th century. Marking the 100th anniversary of the school’s opening, Bauhaus Beginnings on view at the Getty Research Institute from June 11 through October 13, 2019 examines the founding principles of the landmark institution.

The Bauhaus was a German school of art and design whose brief yet highly influential existence rendered it a key site in the development of a new modern vision for arts education. Established in 1919 after the end of World War I, the Bauhaus sought to erode distinctions between crafts and the fine arts through a program of study centered on theory and practical experience. “For a century the Bauhaus has widely inspired modern design, architecture and art as well as the ways these disciplines are taught,” said Mary Miller, director of the Getty Research Institute. “However, the story of Bauhaus is not just the story of its teachers or most famous students. At the Getty Research Institute our archives are rich in rare prints, drawings, photographs, and other materials from some of the most famous artists to work at Bauhaus as well as students whose work, while lesser known, is extremely compelling and sometimes astonishing. Because of the breadth of our special collections we are able to offer a never-before-seen side of the Bauhaus along with more familiar images.”

Drawn primarily from the Getty Research Institute’s collections, Bauhaus Beginnings, considers the school’s early dedication to spiritual expression and its development of a curriculum based on the elements deemed fundamental to all forms of artistic practice. The exhibition presents more than 250 objects including woodcut prints, drawings, collages, photography, textile samples, artists’ books, student notebooks, masters’ teaching aids and notes, letters, and ephemera from the school’s founding and early years.

Artists featured in the exhibition include teachers at the school such as Lyonel Feininger (American, 1871–1956), Walter Gropius (German, 1883–1969), Johannes Itten (Swiss, 1888–1967), Vassily Kandinsky (Russian, 1866–1944), Paul Klee (Swiss, 1879–1940), Gerhard Marcks (German, 1889–1981), László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895–1946), and Oskar Schlemmer (German, 1888–1943). Also included is student work by artists such as Erich Comeriner (German, 1907–1978), Friedl Dicker (Austrian, 1898–1944), Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack (German, 1893–1965), Erich Mrozek (German, 1910–1993), and Margarete Willers (German, 1883–1977). The work of students who later became Bauhaus masters, including Josef Albers (German-American, 1888–1976), Herbert Bayer (Austrian, 1900–1985), Joost Schmidt (German, 1893–1948), and Gunta Sto?lzl (German, 1897–1983), is also featured in the show.

“The Bauhaus continues to spark imagination to this day,” said Maristella Casciato, Head of Architectural Collections at the Getty Research Institute. “By focusing on the vibrant community of artist teachers and student artists who built the school, through a variety of disparate materials, media, and ideologies, we are able to immerse ourselves in the unique, philosophical spirit that birthed some of the most enduring visual ideas of the modern era.”

The idea at the center of Bauhaus practice was Gesamtkunstwerk – the total work of art. In 1919 Walter Groius (German, 1883–1969), widely circulated a manifesto, illustrated with a woodcut by Lyonel Feininger (American, 1871–1956), that announced his bold vision for the newly reformed, state-sponsored school of design and the model of education that would bridge the fine and applied arts. In the text, on view in the exhibition, Gropius outlined how uniting various forms of practices, especially painting, sculpture, architecture, and design, would produce socially and spiritually gratifying works of art. Feininger’s woodcut of a preindustrial Gothic cathedral represented the total work of art, in which designers, artists, and artisans worked together in service of a spiritual goal.

The exhibition also explores the Preliminary Course at the Bauhaus which introduced all first-year students to what were considered the fundamental principles of color, form, and material. Various Bauhaus masters led these first-year studies: after Johannes Itten (Swiss, 1888–1967) initiated the Preliminary Course in the fall of 1920, László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895–1946) and Josef Albers (German-American, 1888–1976) took over beginning in 1923. These courses were supplemented by specialized theoretical seminars led by important Bauhaus faculty, including Gertrud Grunow (German, 1870-1944), Vassily Kandinsky (Russian, 1866–1944), Paul Klee (Swiss, 1879-1940), Joost Schmidt (German, 1893–1948), and Oskar Schlemmer (German, 1888–1943). Despite their many ideological differences, the masters agreed that a firm grounding in the principles of form and color achieved through practical exercises was crucial to the development of a new class of artists.In early 1920, an opportunity to realize a Gesamtkunstwerk “building of the future”—an ideal set forth in the Bauhaus manifesto—presented itself. Adolf Sommerfeld, a lumber mill owner, building contractor, and real estate developer specializing in timber structures commissioned Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer (German, 1881–1929) to design a residence in the south of Berlin. Gropius recognized the opportunity to bring the various Bauhaus workshops together in the design of the house, which took inspiration from a rustic log cabin. Students from the various workshops designed key elements of the interior, including a large stained-glass window above the staircase, carved wood ornaments, a large curtain, a set of wooden tables and chairs, light fixtures, radiator covers, rugs, and wall hangings.

Masters’ teaching aids and student exercises in the exhibition demonstrate how color theory remained a central focus at the Bauhaus throughout the school’s fourteen-year existence. Committed to understanding the nature of colors, instructors and students produced countless graphic systems of wheels, triangles, grids, and spheres to examine how colors relate to one another.

Though women were admitted to the Bauhaus in relatively large numbers—in 1919, 59 out of 139 enrolled students were women—they did not enjoy equal status with the male students. Despite many objections, the majority of women students were pushed to study weaving rather than other media such as metal-working or architecture after completing the Preliminary Course.

The products produced in the weaving workshop were some of the most successful and financially viable at the Bauhaus. In the aftermath of the war, materials and funds for the school’s workshops were scarce, and the weavers used looms held over from Van de Velde’s School of Applied Arts to produce artisanal, yet popular, one-off objects such as stuffed animals and dolls. Early Bauhaus master Helene Börner instructed weaving students to draw upon foundational theories of color and form developed in the Preliminary Course to produce innovative designs. When former student Gunta Stölzl (German, 1897–1983) became director of the weaving workshop in 1926, she argued that “a woven piece is always a serviceable object,” pushing production away from the loom and toward industrial modes. Bauhaus textiles were manufactured in bulk and sold widely, rendering them one of the most successful and broadly disseminated Bauhaus products. The exhibition features textile samples as well as watercolor and other studies for textiles.

Bauhaus Beginnings is curated by Maristella Casciato, with assistance from Gary Fox, Katherine Rochester, Alexandra Sommer, and Johnny Tran. The exhibition installation is designed in consultation with architect Tim Durfee.

To coincide with Bauhaus Beginnings, the Getty Research Institute will also present an online exhibition, Building the New Artist, which further explores the school’s history, theoretical underpinnings, and novel pedagogy. Launching on June 11, 2019, Building the New Artist will feature three interactive activities modeled after the exercises developed by Bauhaus instructors – a Vassily Kandinsky color survey, a Josef Albers paper cutting exercise, and an activity related to Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballet.

More information on both exhibitions will be available online at getty.edu/research.

Reading Between the Lines: Drawing Illustrations
June 4–September 15, 2019

The illustration of written texts has provided artists with inspiration, and gainful employment, across the centuries. Presenting some of the most beautifully finished drawings and watercolors in the Getty collection, this exhibition explores illustration as a branch of artistic production in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Book of Beasts: The Bestiary in the Medieval World
May 14 - August 18, 2019

The exhibition represents an unprecedented gathering of bestiaries and the first major exhibition to explore them in depth

Unicorns, lions, and griffins race, tumble, and soar through the pages of bestiaries – the medieval book of beasts. The bestiary brought creatures – both real and fantastic – to life before a reader’s eyes, offering both devotional inspiration and literary enjoyment. A kind of encyclopedia of animals, the bestiary was among the most popular illuminated texts in northern Europe, especially in England, during the Middle Ages (about 500-1500). Book of Beasts: The Bestiary in the Medieval World explores for the first time in a major museum exhibition the bestiary and its widespread influence on medieval art and culture.

“Many of the illuminated manuscripts produced in the European Middle Ages centered around stories from the Christian Bible,” explains Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “Less well known, however, are the various genres of writing and illustration that celebrate and ornament aspects of worldly life and popular belief. Among the most widely-read and striking of these was the bestiary: illustrated collections of real, imaginary and hybrid beasts, many of exotic origin and sometimes entirely fantastic, that give visual form to the creatures believed to inhabit the known world and the distant realms beyond. Both for their artistic inventiveness and for the insights they provide into the fertile

medieval imagination these works are one of the most engaging aspects of medieval art.” This exhibition features one-third of the world’s surviving Latin illuminated bestiaries

and gathers together more than 100 works in a variety of media from institutions across the United States and Europe, including manuscripts, paintings, tapestries, sculpture, and decorative arts from the Middle Ages. A final section includes modern and contemporary works that trace the enduring legacy of the bestiary tradition. The Getty Museum’s three medieval bestiaries, including the famed Northumberland Bestiary (English, about 1250-1260) are central to the exhibition, and provided the inspiration for the exhibition’s theme.

“The bestiary’s images can be seen as the medieval equivalent of contemporary memes,” said Elizabeth Morrison, senior curator of manuscripts at the Getty Museum. “They served as memorable and engaging snapshots of particular animals that went viral in medieval culture. The bestiary, in fact, still impacts how we talk about and characterize animals today.

The very first line of the medieval bestiary introduces the lion as the king of beasts, an idea we take for granted even if most people don’t know its origin.”

Book of Beasts: The Bestiary in the Medieval World is organized into five sections: The Unicorn,
The Bestiary, Beyond the Bestiary, The Bestiary and Natural History, and The Legacy of the Bestiary. The first section focuses on a quintessentially medieval beast, the unicorn. This case study explores the bestiary as one of the most popular sources of information on animals in the Middle Ages. It presented real and legendary creatures as

living allegories, with the animals’ physical and behavioral characteristics symbolizing central aspects of the Christian faith. For example, the bestiary explains that the unicorn is a pure but fierce creature that can only be captured by a maiden placed in the forest alone, allowing hidden hunters to come forth and slay their prize for its valuable horn. The bestiary goes on to interpret this beast as a symbol for Christ, who was born to a virgin, making possible his eventual death and Crucifixion. The unicorn became one of the most popular animals in art of the period, largely due to its powerful Christian message, and exemplifies how the bestiary’s texts and images played a vital role in establishing animal stories and their Christian connotations in the minds of audiences.

The next section — The Bestiary — presents the development of the bestiary’s textual and visual tradition, highlighting a series of animals and their related stories. Medieval bestiaries contained anywhere from a few dozen to more than 100 descriptions of animals, each accompanied by an iconic image. Although the essential elements of the text and imagery associated with the beasts remained consistent across manuscripts, the bestiary was not a standardized book. The aim of the stories and illuminations was not to impart factual information or visual accuracy but rather to convey the wonder, variety, and hidden meaning found in the natural world. This section will introduce the animals through one of the most common arrangements of the medieval bestiary: quadrupeds, birds, serpents, and sea creatures. Elephants, eagles, sirens, hippos, and dragons are just a few of the fabulous animals encountered in this section and discussed in depth by the medieval bestiary.

The third section — Beyond the Bestiary — takes a look at different incarnations of the bestiary’s animals. The bestiary’s stories and images were so popular that medieval artists readily adapted them to a variety of works of art, ranging from ivories and metalwork to stained glass and tapestries. Because many bestiary animals communicated complex religious messages, they often appeared in liturgical and devotional contexts where worshippers could easily link them to Christian ideology. In addition, the well-known characteristics associated with numerous beasts were effortlessly appropriated for secular works made for the elite world of the court. The use of animals as allegories for human virtues and vices was not limited to European Christian art but was a widespread phenomenon that transcended geography and religion. This section the exhibition will include Hebrew and Arabic manuscripts with moral stories featuring animal characters.

Bestiary and the Natural World encompasses the use of bestiary material in natural history texts, encyclopedias, and maps. The medieval bestiary was never intended as a scientific work, but much of its lore was eventually incorporated into the nascent field of natural history. The period of the bestiary’s greatest popularity corresponded with a movement toward the creation of encyclopedia intended to gather together all knowledge. Many of these included a section devoted to animals, which relied heavily on the bestiary but often stripped away the Christian symbolism. At the same time, the European conception of the world was being broadened by a growth in trade and travel that increasingly linked the West with other parts of the globe. The stories popularized through the bestiary continued to influence natural history texts and images well into the sixteenth century.

The final section — The Legacy of the Bestiary — explores the medieval bestiary’s artistic impact in more recent times with work by modern and contemporary artists such as Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, Kate Clark, Claire Owen, and Damien Hirst. So influential is this medieval art form that today the term bestiary often refers to any collection of description of animals, whether in words or images. Modern bestiaries, as well as contemporary works of art in an array of media that explore the human-animal relationship, draw on the medieval tradition while also introducing elements from the artists’ own time and place.

Book of Beasts: The Bestiary in the Medieval World is curated by Elizabeth Morrison with Larisa Grollemond, assistant curator of manuscripts at the Getty Museum. In conjunction with the exhibition, Getty Publications will release a catalog of the same name edited by Morrison with Grollemond. With over 270 color illustrations and contributions by 26 leading scholars, this gorgeous volume explores the bestiary and its pervasive influence on medieval

art and culture as well as on modern and contemporary artists. In conjunction with the exhibition, Getty Publications will also release Don’t Let the Beasties Escape This Book! written by Julie Berry, and featuring fantastical illustrations by April Lee. This children’s book contains engaging back matter with information on life in the Middle Ages and a mini-bestiary drawn from original manuscripts of the era.

The exhibition is generously supported by The Leonetti/O'Connell Family Foundation, The Ruddock Foundation for the Arts, Jeffrey P. Cunard, and Elizabeth and Mark S. Siegel. Additional support is provided by Allen Adler and Frances Beatty, Ariane David on behalf of the Ernest Lieblich Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum Director’s Council, Dar and Geri Reedy, Virginia Schirrmeister, and Brian and Kathy Stokes.

Flight of Fancy: The Galle Chandelier
April 9, 2019 - April 19, 2020

The extraordinary Galle Chandelier, 1818-1819, has long stood out as a highlight of the J. Paul Getty Museum’s decorative arts collection. Flight of Fancy: The Galle Chandelier is a special, year-long display of the chandelier that allows visitors to see one of the Getty’s most beloved objects in a new light.

Resembling a hot-air balloon, the chandelier is a work of extreme novelty that includes a glass bowl intended to hold water and small goldfish and eighteen candles whose flames would illuminate a room after dark. It was made by a French bronze caster and gilder Gérard Jean Galle (1788-1846) in 1818-1819. While the balloon-like form is entirely modern for the era, various aspects of the design evoke the ancient concept of the four.

Acquired by J. Paul Getty in 1973, the Chandelier has been on permanent display at the Getty Center since it opened in 1997. After being de-installed early this year for conservation, photography, and study, the new exhibition encourages close viewing of the chandelier and explores the inspiration, sources, and themes of its imaginative design. The chandelier is displayed at eye-level, allowing visitors to examine it’s rich detail more closely. Also on view are prints from the collection of the Getty Research Institute that illustrate sources of inspiration for the artist. Didactic panels and close-up photographs illustrate the chandelier’s details. An accompanying interactive video will allow visitors to see what the chandelier would look like lit.

Gérard Jean Galle described how the continuous movement of fish in the water would amuse the viewer. This idea reflected a design theory of the early 1800s that suggested objects should be not only functional but also gratifying to the eye and the imagination. Representing the heavens, the blue globe at the center of the chandelier has gilt stars and is encircled by a gilt-bronze band bearing the twelve symbols of the zodiac.

Gérard Jean Galle (French, 1788–1846) was a bronze caster and gilder who designed and made luxury items in gilt bronze such as clock cases, candelabra, chandeliers, and vases. He exhibited a number of pieces at the Paris Exhibition of French Products of Industry in 1819. He then wrote to the government of King Louis XVIII, offering the works for sale and providing detailed descriptions of each. These included a chandelier of the same design as that at the Getty:

Fish chandelier: In the middle of a blue enameled globe scattered with stars is a circle with the signs of the zodiac and six griffins carrying candles … [below is a glass bowl fitted with] a plug intended for the removal of the water which one places in the bowl with small goldfish whose continuous movement will give agreeable recreation to the eye.

Galle was not successful in his appeal to sell the chandelier to Louis XVIII and struggled financially throughout his career. Nevertheless, he continued producing high-quality objects in gilt bronze and was awarded a gold medal at the Paris Exhibition of 1823.

Flight of Fancy was curated by Jeffrey Weaver, associate curator for sculpture and decorative arts at the Getty Museum.

Spring in the Alps, 1897 By Giovanni Segantini
February 12, 2019 - TBD

The J. Paul Getty Museum announced the acquisition of Spring in the Alps, 1897, by Giovanni Segantini (Italian, 1858-1899). Originally painted for Jacob Stern, a San Francisco collector and director of Levi Strauss & Co, the painting has a long connection to California. It was on continuous loan to Legion of Honor in San Francisco from 1928 until it was sold by Stern’s descendants in 1999.

“Giovanni Segantini was at the peak of his career when he created this luminous panoramic scene,” said Timothy Potts, director of the Getty Museum. “Featuring his characteristic thick brushstrokes and brilliant color palette—which includes flecks of gold leaf—the painting is among the most extraordinary and captivating landscapes produced in Europe at the end of the 19th century. It will resonate powerfully alongside our great Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works from France and paintings by northern European artists of the era. Significantly, with this acquisition, Spring in the Alps finds a permanent public home in California, its original destination, and we hope museum-goers from San Francisco, where it was on view for more than 70 years, will visit the painting at the Getty when they are in Los Angeles.”

At more than four by seven feet, Spring in the Alps is a monumental, sweeping depiction of an alpine landscape near the village of Soglio in Switzerland, with its recognizable church tower visible on the right side of the picture. The view is of an expansive plateau and valley ringed by glaciers and majestic snow-capped mountains. In the middle of the composition a farm woman dressed in a blue and red peasant costume characteristic of eastern Switzerland leads two large horses past a watering trough. They are coming from a freshly plowed field where a sower scatters seeds and a black and white dog stands guard. The scene is sunny and colorful, emphasizing a glorious vista with a brilliant blue sky and ribbons of clouds.

Segantini painted the sizeable canvas in the open air, with additional work completed in the studio. He took liberties with the topography to suit his composition, adjusting the relative scale of the mountains, the perspective of the valley, and the position of the town. He created the vibrant color scheme and brilliant effects of light following the principles of Divisionism, the practice of juxtaposing pure local colors in the belief that the hues mix optically in the eye of the viewer, creating especially luminous effects. This pseudo-scientific movement in painting was first launched in France in the 1880s by George Seurat and Paul Signac, where it was dubbed “Neo-Impressionism.” The movement was subsequently adopted by Italian painters, with Segantini becoming a principal exponent. In contrast to Seurat’s pointillist brushstrokes, Segantini employed long, thin strokes of contrasting color. The rich impasto and the tactile, almost woven, quality of the painted surface, marvelously capture the crisp transparency of the atmosphere, the harshness of the rocks, the thickness of the grass, and the roughness of the skin of the animals.

Spring in the Alps is a joyous hymn to the cycle of life and the reawakening of nature in spring after a long, hard winter,” said Davide Gasparotto, senior curator of paintings at the Getty. “It is an extraordinarily accomplished work where symbolism and naturalism are inextricably intertwined. Segantini himself counted it among his absolute masterpieces. Panoramic in scale and astonishingly luminous, Spring in the Alps is one of the greatest paintings of the Italian Ottocento in America, an iconic work that expands our ability to tell the story of 19th-century European painting.”

Spring in the Alps was commissioned by the American painter Toby E. Rosenthal (1848-1917), who resided in Munich, for San Francisco businessman and collector Jacob Stern (1851-1927), whose father, David Stern, co-founded Levi Strauss & Co. Segantini exhibited the picture at the 7th Munich Secession in 1897 and then took the painting back to his studio in Switzerland where he made further adjustments. In early 1899 the picture was sent to San Francisco to be the centerpiece of Stern’s collection. It was so well known even then, that the painting’s rescue from the 1906 earthquake and fire was reported in the national press. Upon Stern’s death in 1927, and in accordance with his wishes, Spring in the Alps was loaned by his heirs to the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. There it stayed on public view for more than 70 years. In 1999 the estate of Stern’s heir sold the picture at auction in New York.

Born in Arco (Trento) in 1858, Giovanni Segantini counts among the most important Italian artists of his generation. He was internationally famous for his dreamy Alpine landscapes, which combine elements of Jean-François Millet’s reverent naturalism with Georges Seurat’s dappled Divisionist technique and the allegorical subjectivity of the work of contemporary Symbolists, from Gustav Klimt to Paul Gauguin. Segantini's work represents the transition from traditional nineteenth-century art to the changing styles and interests of the twentieth century.

Orphaned as a boy, Segantini was apprenticed to a photographer in Milan, where in 1873 he began attending night classes at the Brera’s Academy of Fine Arts. In the early 1880s, on the advice of the painter-dealer Vittore Grubicy de Dragon, he experimented with plein-air painting during an extended visit to the Brianza region. Marketed by Grubicy, with whom Segantini signed an exclusive contract in 1883, the resulting landscapes attracted international attention and quickly made their author’s fortune. Segantini settled in the picturesque Swiss valley of the Engadine, where he painted views of the surrounding mountains for the rest of his career, often carting his enormous canvases out into the elements to work directly from nature. Despite his somewhat remote location, Segantini kept abreast of the contemporary art scene, maintaining a lively correspondence with Gustav Klimt, Max Liebermann, and others, while his work was exhibited in London, Amsterdam, Paris, and Munich.

In 1897, Segantini was commissioned by a group of local hotels to build a huge panorama of the Engadin valley to be shown in a specially built round hall at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris. Before it was completed, however, the project had to be scaled down for financial reasons. Segantini redesigned the concept into a large triptych known as Life, Nature, and Death (Museo Segantini, St. Moritz), which is now his most famous work. Eager to finish the third part of his large triptych, Nature, Segantini returned in 1899 to the mountains near Schafberg. The pace of his work, coupled with the high altitude, affected his health, and in mid-September he became ill with acute peritonitis. Two weeks later he died at the age of 41. Two years later the largest Segantini retrospective to date took place in Vienna. In 1908, the Museo Segantini was established in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

Spring in the Alps joins another important work by Segantini in the Getty Museum’s collection, Study for “La Vita” (1897), a large pastel that parallels the painting’s composition and is dedicated to his friend Toby Rosenthal, who facilitated the commission of Spring in the Alps from Jacob Stern. In excellent condition, Spring in the Alps comes to the Getty in the elaborate frame that the artist originally designed for it. It will be put on exhibition in the Museum’s West Pavilion on February 12th, alongside other works of art from 19th century Europe.

Interior with an Easel, Bredgade 25, painted in 1912 by Vilhelm Hammershøi (Danish, 1864-1916)
December 18, 2018 - TBD

The J. Paul Getty Museum has acquired Interior with an Easel, Bredgade 25, painted in 1912 by Vilhelm Hammershøi (Danish, 1864-1916). The painting will go on view at the Getty Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday, December 18, 2018.

“Interior with an Easel, Bredgade 25 is a characteristically luminous and enigmatic image that encapsulates Hammershøi’s particular visual poetry,” said Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “Hammershøi’s carefully orchestrated compositions are defined by their sparse atmospheric mood, using a few familiar pieces of furniture and the fall of light through a window to create some of the most beautiful, contemplative interiors in the history of painting. This work is especially important for its play on the art of painting itself: it is a painting about paintings—one seen from the back on the easel, the other hanging on the wall. All that is missing, as so often in Hammershøi’s work, is the human protagonist—in this case the artist himself. There could be no more appropriate subject for the Getty Museum, or any museum, and we are delighted to be able to add this extraordinary work by one of the most important Scandinavian artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries to our collection. Hammershøi clearly saw himself in the tradition of old master painters (he is often touted as ‘the modern Vermeer’), and I am sure visitors will see many resonances with our paintings by other great northern European artists, such as Caspar David Friedrich, Fernand Khnopff, and Edvard Munch.”

Hammershøi began depicting interiors in the late 1890s, and these austere and meditative paintings came to define his artistic reputation, already well established by the time he made Interior with an Easel, Bredgade 25. With single-minded focus, these interiors represent the apartments in Copenhagen that Hammershøi shared with his wife Ida and that served as his de facto studio (Bredgade 25 was the address of his final apartment). Sometimes his work features his wife quietly absorbed in some domestic task, but frequently there is no human presence—the primary subject being the play of light in the sparsely furnished architectural space. Here the only props, besides the artist’s easel, are a framed painting hung high on the wall, to protect it from direct sunlight, and a small table in the far room, framed perfectly by the half-open doorway.

Well-known and highly regarded in his own lifetime, Hammershøi’s career was cut short by his death from cancer at the age of 51. His work fell into relative obscurity and for much of the 20th century he was scarcely known outside of Denmark. Over the last few decades, however, there has been a resurgence of interest in Hammershøi’s work internationally, as numerous exhibitions in Europe, Asia, and the United States have attested. His compositions’ rigorous geometry, sober palette, and lack of sentimental anecdote appeal greatly to modern sensibilities, while the domestic settings, refined painterly handling, and sophisticated light effects call to mind the European old master tradition, and particularly Dutch seventeenth-century painting. Tellingly, both Whistler’s and Vermeer’s names have been invoked in connection with Hammershøi’s art.

“Interior with an Easel, Bredgade 25 is a work of great power and stark beauty, mesmerizing in its sense of stillness and silence. All the elements of a great Hammershøi are here: the masterful rendering of the cool Nordic light, the exquisitely nuanced tonal harmonies, the geometric rigor of the planar composition, the shimmering weave of small, textured brushstrokes – all working to transfigure the mundane into something haunting and poetic,” said Davide Gasparotto, senior curator of paintings at the Getty Museum. “Hammershøi is one of Denmark’s most fascinating painters and the renewed interest and scholarship that his work is now receiving is well overdue.”

Interior with an Easel, Bredgade 25 is 31 x 27 5/18 inches and in excellent, practically untouched condition. Never exhibited in public before its emergence on the market in 2018, it will go on display in the Getty Museum’s West Pavilion galleries on December 18, 2018.

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