Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A day at the Getty


J. Paul Getty Museum
Photo ©Darren Bradley
I spent this past Saturday at the Getty. Like the De Young, which I visited a few weeks ago, the Getty is another museum that I have visited many times but have never really had the time or opportunity to photograph properly. And like my last visit to the De Young, this wasn't going to be that time, either. 


Instead, I was there with my family to visit the new Pacific Standard Time: Overdrive exhibition.  I highly recommend that show, by the way. But since they didn't allow photos in the exhibit, you'll just have to go see it for yourself. It's very well done. 

I was happy to even see some of the architect William Krisel's work on display (including a beautiful rendering of an apartment building - unbuilt - commissioned by Mr. J.C. Dunas, partner with the Alexanders on the Vista Las Palmas tract, and grandfather to Jeff Dunas, the organizer of the Palm Springs Photo Festival that I recently attended...  As well as my friend Steven Keylon talking about Baldwin Hills...  yes, LA is a very small town, indeed). But I digress... 

Anyway, here are a few shots of the museum, taken on the fly while chasing my family around the place for the afternoon... 

The tramway station is the first thing most visitors see upon arriving at the top of the hill in the hovertrain... But it's also probably the one building at the Getty that tourists never bother to photograph. 


J. Paul Getty Museum
Tramway station elevator at the Getty Center, Richard Meier & Partners (1997). Photo ©Darren Bradley

 The Getty Center is frequently compared to a modern day Acropolis... It's easy to see why, as a series of white temples on the crest of a hill. 


J. Paul Getty Museum
View of the main entrance hall. Richard Meier & Partners (1997). Photo ©Darren Bradley

Atrium in the main entrance hall... 


J. Paul Getty Museum
Atrium of the Entrance Hall. Richard Meier & Partners (1997). Photo ©Darren Bradley
J. Paul Getty Museum
Photo ©Darren Bradley

The light dances around the atrium all day...   

Being on top of a hill does have the advantage of providing great promontories from all sides... 


J. Paul Getty Museum
Photo ©Darren Bradley

There are numerous fountains and water features in the central courtyard.


J. Paul Getty Museum
Photo ©Darren Bradley

The South Promontory and Cactus Garden are some of my favorite features in the museum. It feels both modern and timeless at the same time, like walking through a modern architecture ruin many years in the future. Oh, the view's not bad, either... 


J. Paul Getty Museum
View of the South Promontory and Cactus Garden. Photo ©Darren Bradley
J. Paul Getty Museum
Photo ©Darren Bradley

Yes, I saw this guy standing in the staircase landing above, there. And yes, I stood there trying to look non-obvious, praying that someone would come up those stairs below before he left. The composition really needed both. I got lucky. 


J. Paul Getty Museum
Photo ©Darren Bradley

I asked her to come to me and stand by the wall. Instead, she ran away. Close enough. 


J. Paul Getty Museum
Photo ©Darren Bradley

The Central Garden is one of the most defining characteristics of the museum, even though it has little to do with Meier or his office. In fact, the landscaping design at the Getty Center became the subject of one of the most defining controversies during construction. Meier was originally slated to do everything, and his plans were used for the upper portions of the museum. Meier's trees are meant to stand at attention in an orderly fashion, in colors and textures that match the travertine walls of the museum.

But as the design took shape, the board of directors started to get nervous and eventually balked. They brought in installation artist Robert Irwin to take over the landscape design. Meier was reportedly so incensed at this that he refused to design the water features running through the museum to flow into the garden area that was designated for Irwin. Irwin also reportedly took great delight in goading Meier, and the result was a pissing contest of monumental proportions. In any case, Irwin's kinetic, free-spirited designs for the garden stand in stark contrast to the constrained, solemn landscaping around the museum buildings. The resulting contrast of the two is simply brilliant. 



J. Paul Getty Museum
Artist Robert Irwin's kinetic landscape design, with Meier's buildings in the background. Photo ©Darren Bradley
J. Paul Getty Museum
Looking south from the top of the garden. Photo ©Darren Bradley

View of the main entrance pavilion while exiting. 


J. Paul Getty Museum
Photo ©Darren Bradley

And for information and photos on another Meier project, the Federal Courthouse in San Diego, Please also take a look at my article here... 

3 comments:

Brian Moore said...

I was there just a few weeks ago, Darren. I could go back time and time again. I agree with your assessment of the LA Overdrive exhibit. Excellent images as usual; I especially like the one of the shadows on the atrium wall. Also the history of the build-out controversy makes for good reading. (I didn't see that written up anywhere at the Getty. lol)

Darren Bradley said...

Thanks, Brian! It was well documented at the time, but seems to have faded from memory and the official history of the place! ;-)

Steven Keylon said...

WOW!