Art, Paintings

Scott Schaefer on the Meaning of Collecting

The Getty Museum’s retiring senior curator of paintings on art, access, and the cab ride he’ll never forget

One of the world’s great experts in European painting, Scott Schaefer is retiring from the Getty Museum this week. In his 14 years here, Scott has made it a point to walk in the galleries daily, asking security guards questions and answering them from the public. He even went undercover at the museum’s information desk once—because he values what you think and feel about the collection he’s helped to build for you.

We asked him to walk with us in the galleries one last time.

The museums in L.A. are so relatively new, Scott has taken to thinking of them collectively as “the greater museum of Los Angeles.”

“To me, it’s one museum in several locations,” said Scott, who also served as curator at LACMA. “There would be no point, for example, in the Getty—or any museum—buying a work of art by an artist who was already here unless it was better than that work or at least equal to it.”

We also asked Scott to divulge his favorite three paintings at the Getty, and share his answers with you here.

Farewell, Scott.

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      Olympian Census #4: Aphrodite

      Get the stats on your favorite (and not-so-favorite) gods and goddesses on view at the Getty Center.

      Roman name: Venus

      Employment: Goddess of Love and Beauty

      Place of residence: Mount Olympus

      Parents: Born out of sea foam formed when Uranus’s castrated genitals were thrown into the ocean

      Marital status: Married to Hephaestus, the God of Blacksmiths, but had many lovers, both immortal and mortal

      Offspring: Aeneas, Cupid, Eros, Harmonia, Hermaphroditos, and more

      Symbol: Dove, swan, and roses

      Special talent: Being beautiful and sexy could never have been easier for this Greek goddess

      Highlights reel:

      • Zeus knew she was trouble when she walked in (Sorry, Taylor Swift) to Mount Olympus for the first time. So Zeus married Aphrodite to his son Hephaestus (Vulcan), forming the perfect “Beauty and the Beast” couple.
      • When Aphrodite and Persephone, the queen of the underworld, both fell in love with the beautiful mortal boy Adonis, Zeus gave Adonis the choice to live with one goddess for 1/3 of the year and the other for 2/3. Adonis chose to live with Aphrodite longer, only to die young.
      • Aphrodite offered Helen, the most beautiful mortal woman, to Paris, a Trojan prince, to win the Golden Apple from him over Hera and Athena. She just conveniently forgot the fact that Helen was already married. Oops. Hello, Trojan War!

      Olympian Census is a 12-part series profiling gods in art at the Getty Center.

      08/03/15

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