Thursday, September 16, 2010

Los Angeles on Tuesday: Getty Center

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Los Angeles, Getty CenterWe arrived in Burbank, Los Angeles, and after some troubles, rented a red Volkswagen beetle (our excuse is that it was the cheapest car available, but really we thought it was fabulous). We were staying at Rafael’s friends Kit and Christine’s house and we drove over to Christine’s work to meet her for lunch, she works at Dreamworks studios. Turning onto Flower street, we expected a futuristic compound of animators and studios, and in its stead we found a commanding Venetian façade of orange spackling crowded with climbing vines and topped with ceramic tiled roofing. The buildings were all connecting Venetian villas with cypress trees guarding each entryway and flowered hedges silhouetting the sidewalks.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Los Angeles, Getty CenterWe ate lunch at the cafeteria, which provides free lunch and breakfast everyday, even to us, and took a tour of the buildings and gardens. Dreamworks has built a beautiful brook into their grounds, which leads to a waterfall, that supplies a lake, which in turn runs off to a lagoon stocked in koi and goldfish who hide beneath the shade of water lily pads.

After our tour of Dreamworks, we headed over to the Getty Center in Los Angeles. My first visit there last year was during a private reception for a conference I was part in, but I longed to see the complete art collection and stroll the gardens in the warm afternoon sun.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Los Angeles, Getty CenterThe Getty Center boasts a truly wonderful prospect. The museum is situated atop a giant hill, and the modern limestone structure contrasts wonderfully with the trees and shrubberies it has surrounded itself with. The museum is comprised of a cylindrical set of buildings surrounding a fountain and limestone courtyard.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Los Angeles, Getty CenterA multi-leveled patio overlooks the entirety of Los Angeles, which is so much more extensive than the compact vertical cities I am accustomed with. Clumps of buildings and metropolitan areas are surrounded by romantic hilltops and mountains scattered with palms and eucalyptus trees. From the highest overlook, you are enchanted with a huge succulent tree garden. A grouping of tree aloe plants hedges a stairway to a circular preserve of a wide range of cacti.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Los Angeles, Getty CenterPeter Paul Rubens and Jan Bruegel the Elder "Return From War: Mars Disarmed by Venus" 1610

We toured each set of galleries in turn and I was overjoyed to find a substantial collection of Peter Paul Rubens paintings and studies as well as the works of several of his students and contemporaries. One painting in particular caught my attention, Return From War: Mars Disarmed by Venus, because the style of the figures and setting did not seem to belong to the same artist, yet both styles of painting seemed incredibly familiar. I was surprised to learn that Peter Paul Rubens frequently collaborated with Jan Bruegel the Elder who would work on the backgrounds. Rubens and Bruegel are two of my favorite artists of that time and have both had an incredible influence over my work.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Los Angeles, Getty CenterPeter Paul Rubens "Miracles St. Francis" 1627 and Peter Paul Rubens "King Ferdinand" 1635

The Getty Museum has an amazing collection of European art ranging from pre-Renaissance works through the Eighteenth Century. The collection is separated by period and nation in the separate buildings surrounding the courtyard. Traversing the galleries in one trip is easily managed by taking breaks to stroll through the courtyard gardens.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Los Angeles, Getty Center Gérard Audran after Charles Le Brun "Crossing of the Granicus"1672

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Los Angeles, Getty CenterApart from its permanent collection, the entirety of which I was unable to see on my last visit, the Getty Center had an incredible printmaking show. Printing in the Grand Manner is a collection of large scale prints reproduced from the paintings of Charles le Brun and his studio. In general, I am always very fond of figure drawings for reference, if for nothing else, but these works were quite to my taste. The Grand Manner is a genre very focused on a heroic protagonist of sorts, the imagery surrounding whom, depicts the protagonist overcoming some evil, celebrating a battle or avoiding a vice. The images are incredibly complex and reproduced quite well in catalog format.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Los Angeles, Getty CenterOne of the main events, at least in my view, is the Alice in Wonderland-like central garden created by Robert Irwin. The garden follows a sloping hill, through which a gushing stream meanders between planted succulents, flowering shrubs and drooping trees. The stream falls off into a waterfall which leads to a calm pool encasing a labyrinth of finely pruned shrubs. Surrounding this pool is a series of walkways and plantings of gorgeous colorful blooms and mint green succulents, leading to mushroom like structures from which roses emerge in full bloom. Every time I visit the garden, it looks completely different, but never does it fail to put me in a reverie.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Los Angeles, Getty CenterAs the sun began to set, we took the trolley down the Getty mountain to continue our adventures.

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