Behind the Scenes, Getty Villa

Poor Dog Group Unleashes the Power of Satyrs for Villa Theater Lab

L.A. theater ensemble Poor Dog Group is unleashing Satyr Atlas, a re-imagining of ancient Greek satyr plays, at the Getty Villa this weekend. What are satyr plays, you ask? Neither tragedy nor comedy, but a dramatic universe of their own starring the wild, badly behaved companions of Dionysos, these plays have been rarely considered by contemporary theater artists.

Only one complete satyr play survives (Euripides’ The Cyclops), and sizable fragments of a second (Sophocles’ The Trackers)—both of which were featured in the recent exhibition The Art of Ancient Greek Theater. We possess hundreds of fragments from other satyr plays, but they represent something of a giant jigsaw puzzle, with most of the pieces still missing. Even the most learned scholars of the form fail to agree on important points regarding the performance and status of these plays in ancient Greece.

We were delighted, therefore, to find that Poor Dog Group—one of the most innovative young theater ensembles in California—had developed a passionate interest in satyrs, both onstage and off. One might even say an obsession. After six months of intensive research and rehearsal, their new work Satyr Atlas is the result, and Getty audiences will be the first to see this work-in-progress.

Their Satyr Atlas is as creative as it is minimalist. Supported by a gorgeously designed stage and sound environment, the performers are free to channel their inner half-man, half-horse. At the same time, the group depends primarily on the human body and voice to express the essence of the classical story. In this video, go behind the scenes as the group rehearses the work and hear from director Jesse Bonnell on the creative process.

(video by Steve Saldivar)

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      #ProvenancePeek: Winslow Homer at the Met

      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.

      The provenance of this Winslow Homer marine, or seascape, is relatively straightforward as these things go. It was entered into the stock books of M. Knoedler and Co, prominent New York art dealers, in October of 1901. Knoedler & Co purchased the painting, titled Cannon Rock, from Chicago pastor and educator Dr. Frank Gunsaulus on October 24, 1901. Just over two weeks later, on November 9, the firm sold it to art collector and dry goods merchant George Arnold Hearn. Hearn made a gift of his collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1906, and that is where Cannon Rock has lived ever since.

      This seascape is one of Homer’s later works, notable for its flatness. Homer spent the last 25 years of his life living in coastal Maine, painting land- and seascapes that both respect and challenge nature’s authority. Cannon Rock’s mellow provenance tale belies the powerful scene it presents.

      The stock books of the Knoedler Gallery have recently been transformed into a searchable database which anyone can query for free.

      Cannon Rock, 1895, Winslow Homer. Oil on canvas, 40 x 40 in. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of George A. Hearn, 1906 (above); pages from the Knoedler stock and sales books listing the painting (below).


      #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.


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