Antiquities, Behind the Scenes, Education, Getty Villa

Getting to Know the Gela Krater

Leading Spotlight Talks was one of my many tasks as a Multicultural Undergraduate Intern in the Education Department at the Getty Villa this summer. These talks are interactive discussions between an educator and visitors about one object at the Museum. Every month, a different artwork is highlighted, and during the month of August, the monumental Greek vase known as the Gela Krater is the focus.

View of Stories of the Trojan War (Gallery 110) featuring the Mixing Vessel with Greeks Battling Amazons (the Gela Krater), Greek, 475–450 B.C., attributed to the Niobid Painter. Museo Archeologico Regionale, Agrigento, Sicily

View of Stories of the Trojan War (Gallery 110) at the Getty Villa featuring the Mixing Vessel with Greeks Battling Amazons (the Gela Krater), Greek, 475–450 B.C., attributed to the Niobid Painter. Museo Archeologico Regionale, Agrigento, Sicily

The Gela Krater isn’t part of the Villa’s permanent collection—it’s on loan from the Museo Archeologico Regionale in Sicily. Therefore, it had no extensive object file with background information and teaching suggestions, so I had to be especially resourceful when developing my talk. I realized that in order to facilitate an interesting and substantive 15-20 minute discussion about the vase, I’d have to get creative.

I began to research the context of the artwork, such as how vases were made in antiquity, as well as the myths represented on the vase. The Gela Krater includes images of an Amazonomachy (battle between Amazons and Greeks), the hero Herakles, and centaurs, which makes for an exciting story to discuss with Museum visitors.

Detail of a fallen Amazon on the Mixing Vessel with Greeks Battling Amazons (the Gela Krater), Greek, 475–450 B.C., attributed to the Niobid Painter. Museo Archeologico Regionale, Agrigento, Sicily

Detail of a fallen Amazon on the Mixing Vessel with Greeks Battling Amazons (the Gela Krater), Greek, 475–450 B.C., attributed to the Niobid Painter. Museo Archeologico Regionale, Agrigento, Sicily

When I lead the talk, I first ask visitors to take time to look at the work so they can form their own relationship with it. This step is especially important with the Gela Krater because it’s so large (over two and a half feet tall), and because its display in the center of Stories of the Trojan War (Gallery 110) encourages visitors to walk all around it. This allows them a moment to consider the object and to formulate questions and opinions about it.

I also incorporate “touchable” materials from a wonderful collection of objects developed by the Education Department. These are materials that visitors can touch in order to learn about art in a more tactile way. For this artwork, I often pass around a replica of a vase fragment to show the interior of a vessel, as well as different kinds of brushes that would have be used to paint vases in ancient times. I even show a tiny brush with only a single hair—a mouse whisker!

A vase fragment and brushes used in education programs at the Getty Villa

This experience has made me realize that it takes a lot of work to teach in the galleries. I’m grateful that I was given the opportunity to teach in a museum, especially with an object as exciting as this remarkable vase.

Although my internship has just ended, Spotlight Talks on the Gela Krater continue through the end of August, and the vase is on view through October 11. Come by and get to know it for yourself!

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One Comment

  1. Posted October 4, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    I’m so glad to see a Multicultural Undergraduate Intern doing social media for the Getty!

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      #ProvenancePeek: June 30

      Every art object has a story—not only of how it was made, but of how it changed hands over time until it found its current home. That story is provenance.

      This portrait of actress Antonia Zárate by Goya is now part of the collection of the National Gallery of Ireland. The records of famed art dealer M. Knoedler & Co. at the Getty Research Institute reveal its recent provenance: the painting was sold by Knoedler on June 30, 1910, to financier Otto Beit. Part of his collection, including this painting, was later donated to the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin. To this day the Gallery showcases some of its greatest masterpieces in the Beit Wing. This spread from a digitized Knoedler stock book records the transaction (second entry from top).

      M. Knoedler was one of the most influential dealers in the history of art. He sold European paintings to collectors (such as Henry Clay Frick, the Vanderbilts, and Andrew Mellon) whose collections formed the genesis of great museums such as the National Gallery of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Frick Collection, the Huntington, and more. Knoedler’s stock books have recently been digitized and transformed into a searchable database, which anyone can query for free.

      Portrait of Doña Antonia Zárate, ca. 1805–06, José de Goya y Lucientes. Beit Collection, National Gallery of Ireland. Image courtesy of the National Gallery of Ireland.

      _______

      #ProvenancePeek is a monthly series by research assistant Kelly Davis peeking into #onthisday provenance finds from the M. Knoedler & Co. archives at the Getty Research Institute.

      06/30/15

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