About: David Saunders

Posted in Ancient World, Antiquities, Art, J. Paul Getty Museum, Sculpture and Decorative Arts

“Not Like a Coward”: Remembering a Warrior’s Death

Gravestone of Pollis / Greek
Gravestone of Pollis, Greek, made in Megara, about 480 B.C. Marble, 60 1/4 in. high. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 90.AA.129

The intimate association between being remembered and risking one’s life on the battlefield lies at the heart of Homer’s Iliad. The preeminent warrior Achilles famously chose to die young in battle and be forever honored, and this heroic code is well… More»

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Posted in Ancient World, Behind the Scenes, Conservation, Getty Villa, J. Paul Getty Museum

A Roman Emperor Sojourns at the Getty Villa

Wheeling the Statue of Tiberius from the loading dock at the Getty VIlla

The Roman emperor Tiberius, who ruled from A.D. 14 to 37, has something of a reputation for wanting to get away from it all. In 6 B.C., he stepped out of the political and military arena and settled for seven… More»

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

From Malibu to Cyprus and Back Again

Cindy Crawford, Ferre 3 Malibu / Herb Ritts

Having spent a good deal of time with Aphrodite of late, I found in Herb Ritts: L.A. Style a real feast—not just for the eyes, but for the mind. The two exhibitions overlap in their focus on the seductive allure… More»

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Posted in Antiquities, Art, Getty Villa, J. Paul Getty Museum

Sleeping with Aphrodite

Relief with a Man and a Siren / Roman

One of the most enjoyable aspects of curating an exhibition is serendipity. Not to say these projects aren’t carefully planned (far from it), but sometimes the physical relationship of two artworks will coincide in an unexpectedly fortuitous way, or a… More»

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Posted in Ancient World, Antiquities, Art, Exhibitions and Installations, Getty Villa, J. Paul Getty Museum

Eros, the Naughty Superhero of Love

Eros Wearing a Lionskin / Greek

Did you receive a Valentine’s card today? Take a second look at those cartoon Cupids. They derive, in their own way, from ancient Greece and Rome, but might not be so cute as they first appear. Then as now, Cupid’s… 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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