Friday, December 17, 2010

Vineyard across the canyon from the Getty

(Click on any photo for full-size image)

Postcards from The Getty

"Art does not reproduce the visible, it makes things visible"- Paul Klee, (from the Getty Center orientation film)

It's not just art that is visible at the Getty Center, which, as one of the signature cultural edifices of Los Angeles, melds together both art and architecture, as well as art and nature.

Certainly visitors come to see the art collections, which specialize in "pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts; and 19th- and 20th-century American and European photographs."

Detail of one of the many fountains at the Getty

Dining alfresco on the patio above the Central Garden

The philosopher, Friedrich von Schelling, wrote, "Architecture in general is frozen music." He wasn't writing about the Getty, where the architecture is also part of the draw. The soaring, modernest architecture, which clads the Getty's buildings in blocks of white, Italian travertine, resonates with sound, from the voices and footfalls and concert music that echoes off the walls outside, to the water that cascades, burbles and drips from fountains, grottos and creeks.

The Getty's gardens are a draw, too, particularly the artistically designed Central Garden, with its floating maze of azaleas, its boulder-lined creek, and its ever-changing display of 500 varieties of plants and trees.

Looking like hooded figures, table umbrellas are closed on an partly cloudy afternoon

There is another draw, equal to the others: the Getty grandly sits atop the joining of two mountain ridges, and from its airy perch, it offers a view of a broad chunk of Southern California. The Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains are to the east and north, the Palos Verdes Peninsula to the south. The city of Santa Monica and the Pacific Ocean lie to the west. In between it all is El Pueblo de La Reina de Los Angeles, (The City of the Queen of the Angels), known more simply as Los Angeles.

One of the exhibits in the European collection

Nature and architecture united

The unique architecture, the art, the views, and the people are like magnets for photographers, causal and serious. I've always brought a camera with me. The photographs here, made with my little Panasonic Lumix (a point-and-shoot) are the results from my last visit, a few weeks ago.

The architect (Richard Meir), its curators and gardeners, all strive to bring a certain sense of order to the art at the Getty. Photographers, though, are free to take apart that order, and create new arrangements from its disparate elements.

Photographers who visit the Getty haven't designed the building, or planted the trees, or shaped the fountains, or arranged the art collections.
However, through choice of composition and exposure, the photographer can
create another layer of art on top of the conceptual grid of the Getty. At that point, a photographer becomes not just a visitor, but a participant in the artistic process.

Paul Klee was right.
Art does not reproduce the visible, it makes things visible, and that includes the art of photography.

One of the many reflections at the Getty

The Getty is terrific place to people watch

Fountain and Reflecting Pool

On my last visit, sunlight illuminated an incongruous sight: an autumn-orange vineyard, growing on the slopes of the Santa Monica Mountains, between a collection of multi-million dollar homes. From my vantage point, the busy 405 freeway was invisible at the bottom of the canyon, and I felt as if I were standing on the battlements of a castle, overlooking the landscape of the Italian countryside.

The floating azalea maze in the Central Garden

Those aren't sunlit clouds - that's sunlight reflecting off the Pacific Ocean

Admission to the Getty is free. However, parking is $15 (the Getty can also be reached by municipal bus). Cyclists park free. From the parking lot, tram cars follow the contours of one of the ridges that lead up several hundred feet to the Getty.

Looking out toward the towers of Century City

Skylights in the Central Rotunda

Waterfall along the entry walkway

Tram cars

Note: Click on a photograph for a full-sized image

No comments: