Monthly Archives: December 2011

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

The Manuscript Files: A Medieval Marilyn?

Detail of Saint John the Evangelist Writing / German
Saint John the Evangelist Writing, German, about 1340–50. Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment, 17 7/8 x 12 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. 108, verso

The luxuriant locks sported by this medieval figure might seem to say more “Marilyn Monroe” than “Saint John.” Both he and the movie star sport hairstyles from the glamorous ‘40s—in the saint’s case, the 1340s. In the Middle Ages, it… More»

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Posted in Behind the Scenes, Conservation, Exhibitions and Installations

How Do You Conserve a Dancing Sculpture? Magic.

tap_dancer
Collection of Nancy Reddin Kienholz. Artwork © Petra von Huene, Hamburg

Recently, we needed a little magic to get a sculpture in working order. Stephan von Huene’s Tap Dancer—which springs to life every half hour in the first room of our Crosscurrents exhibit—hadn’t danced since 2003, when it was on display… More»

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Posted in Architecture and Design, Behind the Scenes, Gardens and Architecture, Getty Center, Prints and Drawings

Double Draw: The Oakes Brothers at the Getty

The Oakes Brothers sketch in the Central Garden at the Getty Center

Twin brothers and artists Ryan and Trevor Oakes have similar interests, which isn’t really unusual for twins. However, the brothers have taken their mutual fascination with vision, light, space, and depth to a whole new level, and have built their… More»

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Posted in Education, Exhibitions and Installations, J. Paul Getty Museum

Question of the Week: Is It Still a Man’s World?

Car Hood / Judy Chicago

In 1964, while a student in UCLA’s graduate program in painting and sculpture, artist Judy Chicago enrolled in auto-body school—the only woman in a class of 250 men. They were all there to learn how to custom-paint cars with candy-colored… More»

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Posted in Exhibitions and Installations

Pacific Standard Time Is for Kids!

Exploring De Wain Valentine’s Gray Column. Photo: Damon Cason Reiser. From J. Is a Bird
Exploring reflections in De Wain Valentine’s Gray Column. Photo: Damon Cason Reiser. From J. Is a Bird

If you’re a parent, you might be wondering whether Pacific Standard Time is safe for tender eyes. It’s true that several PSTinLA shows tear into grown-up themes, from feminist protest to LGBTQ aesethetics, but there are also plenty of ways… More»

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Posted in Art, J. Paul Getty Museum, Paintings

A “French ‘Mona Lisa’” Comes to L.A.: Manet’s “Portrait of Madame Brunet”

Portrait of Madame Brunet / Edouard Manet

Museum-quality paintings by Édouard Manet still remaining in private hands are exceptionally rare, and the Getty Museum is extremely fortunate in its most recent addition to the paintings collection: Manet’s Portrait of Madame Brunet, which goes on view at the… More»

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

Day Without Art: A Time to Ask, “What If…?”

Tatjana, Veiled Head, Joshua Tree / Herb Ritts

A few months ago, I attended a conversation at the Annenberg Space for Photography on Herb Ritts. Next April, the Getty Museum will present a major exhibition on Ritts, a photographer known for his iconic images of celebrities and models… 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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