About: Anne-Lise Desmas

I'm head of the Department of Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the J. Paul Getty Museum, where I specialize in French and Italian Early Modern sculpture. Growing up in a small beach city by the Atlantic Ocean in France, I could have become a windsurfer or an oyster producer—but my love for sculpture prompted me to leave Brittany to study art history at the École du Louvre and the Sorbonne in Paris. Like many sculptors to the French kings I was studying, I then traveled to Italy to complete my training. I fall in love with Rome, where, to complete my PhD, I spent more than a decade reading dusty archival documents, examining huge travertine statues high up on the facades of basilicas, and examining delicate stucco and marble reliefs in cold churches. There I was lucky enough to work at the French Academy, in the Villa Medici, and at the top of the Pincio Hill overlooking the Eternal City. I couldn't imagine for a minute that I would later work at the top of another hill, overlooking the City of the Angels on the Pacific Coast! I am one ocean and one continent away from Europe, but I can practice surfing (or try to), there are archival documents in the Getty Research Institute (though they are not dusty enough for my taste), and I am surrounded by Tivoli travertine; but above all, I am doing the job I always dreamed of!

Posts by Anne-Lise

Posted in J. Paul Getty Museum, Sculpture and Decorative Arts

A Bronze God for the Sun King

Belvedere Antinous - detail of head and torso / Tacca
Belvedere Antinous (detail), about 1630, attributed to Pietro Tacca. Bronze, 25 1/2 in. high. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2014.40

Travels of a bronze Hermes, from Florence to Paris to L.A. More»

Tagged , , , , , Leave a comment
Posted in Art, Exhibitions and Installations, Sculpture and Decorative Arts

Rodin Joins the Impressionists


Rodin’s Christ and Mary Magdalene has a new home at the Getty. More»

Tagged , , , , , Leave a comment
Posted in J. Paul Getty Museum, Sculpture and Decorative Arts

This Renaissance Sculpture Just Became a French Movie Star

Double Head (detail of face) / Francesco Primaticcio

This Renaissance sculpture stars in a French biopic. More»

Tagged , , , , , , , Leave a comment
Posted in Art, Sculpture and Decorative Arts

No Beauty Contest: 18th-Century English Lord Curates Getty Museum Gallery

Neoclassical and Roman sculptures at the Getty Center, Gallery W101
A new installation in Gallery W101 at the Getty Center presents 18th-century Neoclassical sculptures alongside two Roman pieces with storied pasts

Two pieces brought out from storage complete the story of the Judgment of Paris in a new installation at the Getty Center. More»

Tagged , , , , , , , Leave a comment
Posted in Art, Behind the Scenes, J. Paul Getty Museum

A New Installation of 18th-Century Terracottas and Marbles

Overview of South Atrium

The sculpture and decorative arts galleries in the West Pavilion, redesigned in August 2010, highlight the objects well—so well, in fact, that I bet no one has noticed that seven sculptures once in the West Pavilion have been off view… More»

Tagged , , , Leave a comment
Posted in Behind the Scenes, Exhibitions and Installations, J. Paul Getty Museum, Sculpture and Decorative Arts

The Thrills (and Terrors) of Installing an Exhibition

Installing Leonardo and the Art of Sculpture
Chain in hand, I help out during the heavy lifting.

Wednesday, March 17, 9:50 a.m. That’s it. I’ve just walked the last courier to the South Gate shuttle point and said good-bye, and am going back to the museum. There’s a delicious smell coming from the wisteria, and the sky… More»

Tagged , , , , , 2 Responses
  • Facebook

  • Twitter

  • Tumblr

    • photo from Tumblr

      It’s been 125 years since Van Gogh’s death, today we celebrate his life’s work.

      5 Ways to See Van Gogh’s Irises

      Through observations, visitor conversations, and some sneaky eavesdropping, we’ve compiled the top 5 ways people enjoy this painting.

      1. In a Crowd
        One of the most obvious ways that people see the painting is in a crowd. The gallery is almost always filled, and you might have to wait before you can get up close. The anticipation builds as you start in the back row, and slowly move until you are close enough to see the brushstrokes of Van Gogh’s thick paint.

      2. Online
        David from Colorado said that this was his first visit, but he had already seen the painting online. In addition to being available through the Getty’s Open Content program, the painting is often seen on social media. Just search #irises on Instagram for a taste of the painting’s popularity. 

      3. Alone
        If you arrive right at 10 a.m. when the museum opens, the quiet gallery provides a perfect backdrop to really examine the painting. Solitude and seclusion gives the gallery a sense of intimacy. 

      4. Multiple Times
        Repeat visits can give rise to multiple interpretations. Is it a melancholy or joyous painting? Expressive or depressive? 

      5. Internationally
        Visitors from all across the world viewed this famous Van Gogh. In just one hour you can hear multiple languages—French, Italian, Chinese, Korean, German, and more. Irises seems to rise above cultural boundaries—a Dutch painting inspired by Japanese ukiyo-e prints—to strike an emotional resonance amongst all viewers. 

      What is your favorite lens to view Van Gogh’s work through? 


  • Flickr