About: Karen Meyer-Roux

I work at the Getty Research Institute in the Special Collections Cataloging Department. I prepared records for the Festival collection and for recent new acquisitions.

Posts by Karen

Posted in Art, Getty Research Institute, Paintings, Scholarship

Treasures from the Vault: Knoedler, Mellon, and an Unlikely Sale

Venus with a Mirror / Titian
Venus with a Mirror, about 1555, Titian. Oil on canvas, 49 x 41 9/16 in. The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1937.1.34. Andrew W. Mellon Collection

One of the most remarkable art sales of the 20th century, as told in documents from the Knoedler archives at the Getty Research Institute. More»

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Posted in Art, Behind the Scenes, Getty Research Institute

Treasures from the Vault: The Carlhian Records

Maison Carlhian, Paris, warehouse with stock of plaster casts and boiserie, 1919

The Getty Research Institute is pleased to announce that the Carlhian records are now available for research. This archive enhances the Research Institute’s holdings in the history of decorative arts. Based in Paris, the Carlhian firm acquired and produced furniture, boiseries or… More»

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Posted in Art, Getty Research Institute

Volcano Observer: Sir William Hamilton and Mount Vesuvius

View of an Eruption of Mount Vesuvius
View of an Eruption of Mount Vesuvius, Peter Fabris. Hand-colored engraving in Sir William Hamilton, Campi Phlegraei, 1776.

As news of the erupting and disruptive Icelandic volcano has streamed worldwide, we should pause to pay homage to the pioneering work of the British diplomat, collector, and amateur vulcanologist Sir William Hamilton (1730–1803). Appointed Britain’s special envoy to the Spanish court… 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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