In the last few hours we had at the Getty Museum before all staff left the building as part of Los Angeles’s safer at home initiative, we shot some short videos in the exhibition Michelangelo: Mind of the Master. They were shot hurriedly and we had no time to prepare, but now I’m glad we did it.
The exhibition had opened at the Getty Center a few weeks earlier, and we’d talked a number of times about filming some social media segments. But I’d put this off, being slightly delinquent and—if I’m honest—terrified of being filmed.
Ordinarily, we tour visitors in the galleries, answer questions that arise, and point out details in the drawings. So it felt odd to be in the totally deserted exhibition space, talking about the drawings to my iPhone 5 SE held by Christopher, a producer in digital content who had scrambled at the last minute.
After the exhibition opened, I had been doing tours along with Getty co-curator Edina Adam, and the galleries were always packed; we’d had over 2,500 visitors to the exhibition every day, perhaps partly thanks to a mercifully positive review in the LA Times.
In collaboration with the designers, we’d arranged for the exhibition to be spacious and comfortable, placing the drawings on pedestals in the middle of the galleries and keeping the walls free for large murals of Michelangelo’s related sculpture and paintings. But working on these videos the galleries felt clattery and strangely desolate, a sensation now familiar to us all from the many eerily quiet public spaces.
For me, bringing the exhibition together marked something of a personal milestone. The majority of the Michelangelo drawings are from the collection of the Teylers Museum in Haarlem, the Netherlands. I had first seen these drawings as a seventeen-year-old student. I remember the moment vividly, pulling aside a curtain to view each sheet (the curtain prevented too much light, which can damage the drawings), and marveling at feeling so very close to Michelangelo. It was thrilling to see visitors having the same revelation from the same drawings.
What I didn’t realize as a student is something that has also astonished many visitors: the fact that these are survivors from the many drawings that Michelangelo burned over the course of his lifetime. The artist was fiercely protective of his ideas, and also—according to artist-biographer Giorgio Vasari—did not want to seem less than perfect.
When will the exhibition (and the Getty) be open to visitors again? To be honest, we don’t know. The COVID-19 situation is fast-evolving and we’ll be guided by considerations of public health and safety. Watch this space, and in the meantime please explore highlights of the exhibition online, sample the audio tour, and enjoy the catalogue (published by the Cleveland Museum of Art, the co-organizing institution) and these last-minute videos. Find the videos below and on Getty’s Facebook page.
Thank you for sharing and preserving for all of us this beautiful exhibition…it has become even more precious ,if that is possible , because of the brevity of our engagement. I know I speak for other docents when I say that the opportunity of learning about these masterpieces was a welcome experience. I hope that we will soon again be able to share our wonderful Getty with visitors . Thank you again ..stay safe and well . Marilyn Ruman
Excellent. .wonderful commentary by Julian Brooks
I loved the glimpse afforded me via my computer.Thank you. I wonder why more glimpses and more are not part of every museum holdings. Few of us have ready access to museums, even less for greater museums;, like the Getty. Please more access the wonders of art through computer access.
Thank you for doing this. The last time I was to visit The Getty, I didn’t get to because of the fires; now because of this dreadful time we’re having in our country. But, I will get there and will continue to order things online. Thank you for all you do.
Thank you for sharing, and best wishes for a speedy reopening of this exhibit.
Happy to see this and you on the Iris. The galleries were eerie as they were being shuttered. Good that you made something interesting out of that day.
The Last Second Michaelangelo videos do not play on my computer (an iMac).
It looks very interesting. I am certain That I would love to, I am kind of a private person and don’t do facebook. You Tube might work for everyone. Thank you for this work.
Thank you so much for sharing this exhibition with us. I only hope it will remain open after the stay-at-home orders are lifted, so we ma enjoy it “up close and personal.” I especially appreciate your insight about Michaelangelo.
I really appreciate how you are sending art out to all. I was to the Getty years ago and really enjoyed it all. Thank you!
I read above how you were so terrified of being filmed and I wanted you to know how perfect you were and how much you added to my love of this exhibit! I was so sad for those who were unable to see the exhibit and now it can be shared.
I remember when at thirteen my family was at the Uffizi Gallery, there was this exhibit on Michelangelo. His flying machine flew over the ceiling of the room, it was so brilliant I have never forgotten how much I loved his work.
This exhibit brought back that feeling and I was so happy to see the faces of the students I was able to share this exhibit with.
I know some of them were equal as moved by their reaction and excitement to connect it to what they already knew.
Thank you again for being brave and doing these videos for all of us.
When I try to watch your video a request pops up which asks me to give permission for Facebook to track my choices. When I decline the video stops playing. I can still watch as long as I do not respond to this request but can then not use full screen or pause the video
Thank you for this option to see this talk and video online. We do not have an art museum in the small but developing Metro City that we live in.
Just a quick nod to you. I miss the Getty and hope that we can all enjoy this exhibition sooner rather than later.
I WAS UNABLE TO FEW… UNABLE TO OPEN UP EACH VIDEO..
thank you so much for sharing . My son is a fine art major and I am excited to share this with him. I have visited the Getty museum several times and the Getty Villa and am looking forward to returning soon.
Thank you, not only for this genius idea, but for all of the content and interaction you’ve created for us during our #alonetogether-ness. So very much appreciated.
Wonderful opportunity to take a peek at some of what must be a very impressive collection! Thank you for making it accessible to us as we “shelter in place.” More, please!
Thanks so much for taking the time to film these and put them up.
You should not fear being filmed; your authenticity shines through and that’s all we care about.
I also hope the public is back at the Getty before this exhibit is done.
Great show! It was a privilege to see this show, I got in to the gallery for a second time, a week before the museum closed. Thank you Mr. Brooks for your insightful visual
commentary on Michelangelo’s beautiful drawings! I just returned from Paris, saw the wonderful Da Vinci exhibition, I returned to see the wonderful Michelangelo exhibition,
so I got my important dose of some of the finest art in our world. The Getty Center is the greatest! I can’t wait for the Museum to reopen. Thanks again.
What an absolute pleasure to take a quiet walk with Julian Brooks through the gallery. I felt like I was there. This is a precious series. Thank you!
WHATEVER YOU DOING I WILL KEEP WATCHING WHATEVER YOU DO, ORANGE >:)
The BEST!!!!!! Thank you
Thank you Getty museum and Julian Brooks for The Last Minute Michaelangelo. A wonderful respite from Covid 19.
Thank you very much for sharing your insight.I haven’t seen it yet but I’m looking forward to see the exhibit when Getty Center opens. I have seen the Drawings of Paul McCarthy at Hammer Museum and I’m just curious the comparison between the 2 Artists where the purpose of the two are the same that is using their Drawings in preparations of their own projects.
So I saved your building-exit videos for a moment when I could fit them into my work-at-home-day and now they won’t play, kicking me to a complicated Facebook excuse page.
Are they still accessible?
You can find the Last Minute Michelangelo videos on YouTube at this link.
Or on Facebook, at this link.
Thank you for sharing, and best wishes for a speedy reopening of this exhibit.
Even though Michelangelo had a big ego it was far outweighed by his artistic talent. I believe his body of work is more appreciated today than In his own time. It is easy to criticize a contemporary which we see everyday on TV and in newspapers. On the other hand, we are much more forgiving of individuals from the past and let them be evaluated on their giftedness, as well as their ongoing inspiration to us all. The sketches we are able to see in this video show how his preplanning greatly contributed to the final paintings or sculptures. They are a gift to us no matter the frailties of the man.
Feeling humbled by all of your kind and sweet comments … thank you! – Julian
Dear Mr. Brooks,
I was fortunate enough to see this wonderful exhibition the week before the Getty closed and yet, I still learned so much more from your videos.
Thank you so much for your knowledge and for sharing it with us! Please do more!
Thank you so much for doing these videos. Bravo. It means the world to people who cannot go in person for whatever reason: pandemic, living in another city. lack of money. I cannot wait to go back to the Getty once it reopens. Ps. Julian Brooks is a marvelous docent.
thank you immensely for making this treasure available on the web! Don’t know if and when i will see in in person ! so this is a real virtual treat!
Wonderful painting! the art gallery is much impressive than I expected. the content is also great.