Monthly Archives: October 2011

Posted in Exhibitions and Installations, Paintings, Sculpture and Decorative Arts

It Happened in L.A.: Artists Turn to Zen

Little Big Horn / Peter Voulkos

Artists’ studios aren’t generally thought of as meditative places. The stereotype is one of disarray—an image comes to mind of paintbrushes, sculpting tools, or other instruments of the trade strewn about a room, as if to signal an unruly creative… More»

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Posted in Art, Behind the Scenes, J. Paul Getty Museum, Manuscripts and Books

Time for a Manuscript Close-Up! Welcoming the Abbey Bible to the Museum

Erene Rafik Morcos documenting the Abbey Bible in the Manuscripts Study Room at the J. Paul Getty Museum

The 13th-century illuminated manuscript known as the Abbey Bible recently joined the collection of the Getty Museum—and when the special book arrived, the task of documenting it fell to me. This meant I had to spend a lot of time… More»

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Posted in Exhibitions and Installations, J. Paul Getty Museum, Photographs, Film, and Video

Unraveling the Narrative: A Conversation with Photographer Eileen Cowin

Eileen Cowin in her studio, 2011

In the exhibition Narrative Interventions in Photography, opening October 25, contemporary photographers Eileen Cowin, Carrie Mae Weems, and Simryn Gill present works that explore the subjectivity of storytelling and the slipperiness of truth. Cowin’s large, color photographs pair images—including one… More»

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Posted in Art, Getty Research Institute, J. Paul Getty Museum, Photographs, Film, and Video

Ruscha Sees L.A.

Shoot from Hollywood Blvd. / Ed Ruscha
Shoot from Hollywood Blvd., Ed Ruscha, 1973. Contact sheet. Part of the Streets of Los Angeles Archive, The Getty Research Institute. © Ed Ruscha

The Getty has just acquired photographs by Ed Ruscha. Seventy-four prints, including depictions of gas stations from Los Angeles to Oklahoma City along Route 66, sidewalk views of buildings that were included in his self-published books Some Los Angeles Apartments and… More»

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Posted in Art, J. Paul Getty Museum, Paintings

A Portrait of Venice Unmasked

The Painter in His Studio / Pietro Longhi

The life of a painting can be pretty unpredictable. Some are constantly on the move, reaching different parts of the world as they travel through time. When I started at the Getty as an intern, I had only recently returned… More»

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Posted in Behind the Scenes, Getty Research Institute, Photographs, Film, and Video

A Visit to Thomas Demand’s Studio

Thomas Demand in his Culver City studio with visitors from the Getty Research Institute
Thomas Demand in his Culver City studio, showing us the set of his latest work and his paper and cardboard constructions

During my work as a Multicultural Undergraduate Intern at the Getty this summer,  I was invited to join colleagues from the Getty Research Institute on a visit to artist Thomas Demand’s studio in Culver City. It was a memorable look… 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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