Ancient sculpture, contemporary photography, modern paintings, and more receive nods as best-of for 2015

Gallery view of "Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World." Foreground, left to right: Victorious Athlete, 300-100 B.C. (The J. Paul Getty Museum) and Seated Boxer, 300-200 B.C. (Museo Nazionale Romano—Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome).

Gallery view of Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World. Foreground, left to right: Victorious Athlete, 300–100 B.C. (The J. Paul Getty Museum) and Seated Boxer, 300–200 B.C. (Museo Nazionale Romano—Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome)

As director of the Getty Museum, one of the most satisfying things is to see the impact our programs have on audiences well beyond our two campuses here in Los Angeles—and that peers in the field recognize the efforts of the Museum’s talented staff. I’d like to share some of these distinctions with you today as a tribute to all of them.

The annual Lucie Awards, one of the most prestigious honors given in photography, recognized Museum curators not once but twice at the end of 2015. Amanda Maddox, assistant curator of photographs, was named curator/exhibition of the year for Josef Koudelka: Nationality Doubtful. Also acknowledged was Robert Checchi as the designer of the exhibition. In the same category, Virginia Heckert, head of the Department of Photographs, was among the award finalists for her exhibition Light, Paper, Process: Reinventing Photography. Virginia’s exhibition was also named best photography exhibition for 2015 by the Global Fine Art Awards in December.

The Global Fine Art Award for best ancient exhibition went to Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World, curated by Jens Daehner and Kenneth Lapatin and now on view at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. And just two weeks ago, Jens and Ken were honored by the College Art Association as runners-up for the top award in scholarly museum publishing for the Power and Pathos exhibition catalogue.

The Global Fine Art Awards also recognized two other Getty shows, with finalist nominations for Andrea del Sarto: The Renaissance Workshop in Action in the old masters category and J. M. W. Turner: Painting Set Free in the Impressionist/modern category, both curated by Julian Brooks in the Department of Drawings. (Andrea del Sarto is another exhibition that traveled to the East Coast, showing at the Frick Collection in New York.) It is a remarkable tribute to our curators that the Getty Museum received more nominations at the Global Fine Art Awards than any other institution.

In its December issue, Apollo, the distinguished British arts magazine, published its annual Apollo Awards for 2015, an eagerly anticipated review of the best acquisitions, exhibitions, and publications in the art world during the year. Two of our most recent acquisitions were among the finalists for acquisition of the year: Édouard Manet’s Spring and Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Bust of Pope Paul V. Both artworks have had an extraordinary impact on the displays in our galleries. (And once again, the Getty was the only Museum listed twice.) To our curators Scott Allan, Anne Woollett, and Anne-Lise Desmas go my thanks and admiration for working so hard to bring these masterpieces to Los Angeles.

Apollo also included Power and Pathos on its short list for best exhibition, adding to the continuing recognition for this remarkable exhibition.

The same issue of Apollo listed our current exhibition Woven Gold: Tapestries of Louis XIV, curated by Charissa Bremer-David, as one of the highlights for 2016. And, both Power and Pathos and Woven Gold were chosen by Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight for his “Best of 2015” exhibitions list.

Last but not at all least, Time Out Los Angeles selected as their top theater event of 2015 Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, written by Luis Alfaro for the 2015 outdoor theater program at the Getty Villa. The cast, director Jessica Kubzansky and her colleagues at the Theatre @ Boston Court, as well as the talented staff in the Museum’s Departments of Education and Antiquities all deserve our congratulations on this spectacular success.

Scene from “Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles” at the Getty Villa, Front: Vivis Colombetti (Tita). Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Scene from Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles at the Getty Villa, Front: Vivis Colombetti (Tita). Photo by Craig Schwartz

These awards are a reminder that all the work we undertake at the Getty Museum is the product of teams of dedicated and creative professionals both within the Museum and across the Getty Trust. In addition to these awards and accolades, last year’s visitorship at the Getty Center and Getty Villa combined topped two million visitors, the highest attendance ever for the Getty in a single year. By any measure, 2015 was a year of outstanding success.

And 2016 will be just as varied and ambitious, with more than a few surprises. Highlights include Noir: The Romance of Black in 19th-Century French Drawings and Prints (now open), which shows that the fashion for things dark and dangerous is anything but new, and is a revelation in how much emotion and beauty can be conjured up without any use of color as we know it.

Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium (opening March 15; in collaboration with LACMA), is sure to be one of our most popular exhibitions ever, presenting this legendary artist in greater depth than ever before, based on both his finished prints and the huge archive of work-in-progress that he left behind, now owned jointly by the Getty and LACMA.

Unruly Nature: The Landscapes of Théodore Rousseau (opening June 21), will be the first-ever international loan exhibition in North America on this brilliant landscape painter and draftsman, whose work was such an inspiration to the Impressionists.

Last but certainly not least, the biggest novelty of all for us will be a major exhibition on the painters of the School of London: London Calling: Bacon, Freud, Kossoff, Andrews, Auerbach, and Kitaj (opening July 26). Freud and Bacon are household (or at least studio) names in this country, and acknowledged as major figures in 20th-century painting around the world, but the other four in the show are just as interesting. This exhibition will be hugely enjoyable for practicing artists and anyone interested in modern and contemporary painting.

I thank all our talented staff for their ongoing dedication, and our visitors for their continuing support, participation, and enthusiasm.