Art in the Mountains

Today we headed north to LA for a day of beauty.  One should always take one’s artist out for a date when one can (thanks, Julia Cameron!).

We drove up highway 405 to the Getty Center, perched atop a hill in northern LA, overlooking the valley. It was a clear day, and the visibility was great.

From the moment you park your car at the Getty Center (underground, so it stays nice and cool while you are there, and leaving no blot on the view), it is clear that they have done everything right. There are beautiful gardens and sculptures as you leave the parking garage to hop on the tram to take you up the hill to the galleries. The site sits on 750 acres that were purchased thanks to a huge amount of money left by J. Paul Getty, a very wealthy oilman who also collected art. He left his collection, with enough cash to buy the property, build a number of beautiful galleries, research and conservation centres, an auditorium and an absolutely gorgeous set of gardens, and NOT CHARGE ANYONE TO GET IN!   We paid $15 to park. That’s it.

His substantial and wide-ranging collection of art is mostly housed here, and includes Illuminated manuscripts, paintings from many periods, bronze and stone sculpture, photographs and decorative arts.  He wanted people to see it and appreciate it, and so he made it as accessible as he could.

Architect Richard Meier was chosen to design the Getty Center in 1984. He made sure that natural light would illuminate all the painting gallery spaces. The overall design is based on 30″ squares, which occur everywhere on the facades of the buildings, in a stone called travertine as well as in modern aluminum.

The Museum Entrance Hall

The Museum Entrance Hall

Very modern, yet it also gave the impression to me of a castle with drawbridges, which would protect the collection inside.

The South Promontory desert garden overlooking LA

The South Promontory desert garden overlooking LA

Everywhere we looked, there was a beautiful vista. The site really is spectacular, and made moreso by the beauty of the design.

I loved the gardens. As much thought had been put into them as anything else on the property.  The Central Garden was designed by artist Robert Irwin.  He had us enter it via a serpent-like path back and forth across a rushing stream. The stream ends in a waterfall that enters this pool.

Central Garden

400 flowering azalea plants create the maze. Surrounding this pool, the pathway winds through roses and dahlias (they were beautiful!) and many other flowers.  No straight lines, just like in nature.

2 California 008a

I could go on and on about this, but I think you get the idea. I shall leave you with two more pictures: one of a sculpture Rene Magritte did the year he died: 1967. It is called Delusions of Grandeur, but I think it should be made into postcards for Women’s gyms around the world.

Delusions of Grandeur by Rene Magritte

Delusions of Grandeur by Rene Magritte

The other picture is of a piece inspired by a small botanical drawing of a beetle from the collection. The modern artist blew it up to gargantuan proportions, and attached it to the wall using a HUGE t-pin through the body of the beetle.  It is what holds the piece to the wall.

This is taken from the second floor - can you see the t-pin?

This is taken from the second floor - can you see the t-pin?

That’s all for now.  My “inner artist” has been fed. Till next time!

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