Monthly Archives: June 2010

Posted in Art, Getty Research Institute

Soccer and Opera: A Common History?

depicting Florentine soccer in Discorso sopra il givoco del calcio fiorentino del Puro Accademico Alterato, Giovanni de' Bardi (Florence, Stamperia dei Giunti, 1580). The Getty Research Institute, 1370-871

The World Cup kicks off today in South Africa, and the international mania for soccer—sometimes known as “the beautiful game’’—put me in mind of one of the many interesting treasures held in the collections of the Getty Research Institute. In… More»

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Posted in J. Paul Getty Museum

Geoff Dyer Is Not a Bore

Geoff Dyer. Photo: Jason Oddy

When British author Geoff Dyer came to speak at Zócalo Public Square at the Getty Museum, he was prepared to be a bore. “It’s going to be the classic definition,” he said, “the bore, the person who lectures you about… More»

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Posted in Art, Getty Research Institute

Avant-Garde Antics: The Art of Display in Postwar Los Angeles

Wallace Berman’s gallery in Larkspur. Photo by Charles Brittin. Research Library, The Getty Research Institute, 2005.M.11

How do you hold a “secret exhibition”? In 1957, Los Angeles artist George Herms did just that, setting up his assemblage sculptures among the foundation blocks of a row of demolished buildings in Hermosa Beach. The show wasn’t publicized, and… More»

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Posted in Exhibitions and Installations, Getty Center, J. Paul Getty Museum, Manuscripts and Books

Interpreting Sacred Scripture across Faiths

Samson Fighting a Lion (detail), Franco-Flemish, about 1270
Samson Fighting a Lion (detail), Franco-Flemish, about 1270

How do people of different faiths read, interpret, and depict the sacred texts known in the Christian tradition as the Old Testament? Come explore the question with us this Sunday as Reverend Alexei Smith, director of the Office of Ecumenical… More»

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Posted in Exhibitions and Installations, Prints and Drawings, Publications

Leonardo da Vinci, Anatomist

From the new book: Leonardo's exploded view of the muscles and tendons of the soles of the foot, with anatomical notes in English

Leonardo da Vinci worked for 25 years on a complete guide to the human form that would have transformed the study of anatomy in Europe. But the project was never finished and the notes were all but lost for centuries… More»

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Posted in Exhibitions and Installations, Getty Research Institute

Think Local, Exhibit Global—Research Institute Exhibitions on the Move

Installation view of Art, Anti-Art, Non-Art: Experimentations in the Public Sphere in Postwar Japan, 1950-1970 at the University of Michigan Museum of Art. Photo: Randy Stegmeyer

Off the tram, up the stairs and take a sharp right before going into the main entrance pavilion. Head into the building across from the Cafe. That’s where you’ll usually find the distinctive exhibitions of the Getty Research Institute (GRI)…. More»

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Posted in Gardens and Architecture, Getty Villa

Exploring the Herb Garden at the Getty Villa

Fruit in the Herb Garden at the Getty Villa

A beautiful day and the blooming of spring brought me out of my stuffy cubicle and into the Herb Garden at the Getty Villa. As the sun streamed onto my shoulders, I inhaled the fresh sent of mixed herbs and… More»

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Posted in Behind the Scenes, Getty Center

Saturdays Off the 405 Blasts Open with Les Savy Fav

Les Savy Fav's opening song, complete with Getty umbrella

Saturday early evening in the museum courtyard. An audience surrounded the outdoor stage. The bright L.A. sunshine was softening, and a peculiar figure wove through the crowd, dressed in white linen, a neon fur cape, and a white and silver… More»

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      A Chat with Photographer Tomoko Sawada

      A conversation about Japanese matchmaking traditions, self-portraiture, clothes, and identity.

      When did you start photographing yourself?
      I began making self-portraits when I was 19. It was an assignment for a photography class. I can’t even explain in Japanese why I liked them so much. It was instinctual. It’s as if I knew that this was going to be my style, that this is what I wanted to do. And I’m still doing it because I love the self-portrait, but I don’t know why. 

      What themes are you exploring in your work?
      I’m interested in the relationship between inside and outside. If you wear a sexy dress or if you wear kids clothes or casual clothes, people treat you differently. Even though you are you no matter what you wear. It’s that relationship that makes me think. 

      My new work is from when I was living in New York. When I was in New York, people didn’t think I was Japanese. Sometimes they thought I was Korean or Chines or Mongolian. Even Singaporean. It was funny, when I would go to the Japanese market, they would speak to me in English. When I went to the Korean market, they would speak to me in English again. I don’t seem to look Japanese outside of Japan. I was surprised because I think I look totally Japanese. It’s funny that people’s points of view are totally different.

      Could you talk a little about OMIAI, the series that represents a traditional Japanese matchmaking technique.
      OMIAI is a tradition that is somehow still working today. Usually, there is a matchmaker and photographs are exchanged before meeting. If both sides are interested, they can meet for lunch or dinner accompanied by their parents and steps for marriage proceed from there. In the old days, some people chose their marriage partner just through photographs, without even meeting each other. 

      When OMIAI was exhibited in Japan I saw people making various comments in from of the work. People would say things like, “she looks like a good cook; surely she would prepare delicious meals every day,” or “ this girl could be a perfect bride for my son,” or “I can tell she would not be a good housewife,” or “she’s such a graceful girl; she must be the daughter of a decent family.” Comments like that. 

      What was the process of making that work?
      I gained 10 pounds before I started taking the pictures, and in six months I lost forty pounds, because I wanted to look different in each photo. I wanted to change the way my legs looked. 

      Every weekend I went to the hair salon and put on a kimono. Then I went to the photo studio on the street in Japan. I would take a picture and then change my clothes to western dress. Then I would go to the studio again the next weekend. 

      Did you tell the photographer how you wanted it done?
      I told him I was an artist and wanted to make photographs with him. I told him to think that each weekend new girls would show up to make the OMIAI. I didn’t want him to think of me as the same girl who came every weekend. He understood the concept. 

      We had fun. While he was taking pictures, his wife would tell me how to lose weight. She gave me many tips.


      Tomoko Sawada’s work is on view at the Getty until February 21, 2016 in “The Younger Generation: Contemporary Japanese Photography”

      02/11/16

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