Posted in Exhibitions and Installations, Getty Research Institute, J. Paul Getty Museum, Sculpture and Decorative Arts

Physiognomy, The Beautiful Pseudoscience

Untitled / Ken Gonzales-Day

What do the expressions “highbrow” and “lowbrow” have in common with saying a woman has “mousey” features? What does Homer Simpson have to do with photographs of sculpture in profile by contemporary artist Ken Gonzales-Day? All are contemporary manifestations of… More»

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Posted in Art, J. Paul Getty Museum, Sculpture and Decorative Arts

In Search of Messerschmidt’s “Vexed Man”

The Vexed Man, Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, 1771–83. Alabaster, 16 9/16 in. high

New for summer 2012—The Vexed Man is back at the Getty, but he’s moved from his usual haunts for the exhibition Messerschmidt and Modernity, July 24–October 13, 2012. The show brings together several of Messerschmidt’s Character Heads, including the excellently… More»

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      #ThyCaptionBe: You Look Like Hell

      You captioned this detail. And we’re revealing the full story now.

      Escaping the in-laws or medieval Sea World? It’s actually an extreme punishment for a dress code violation. 

      Here’s the full story:

      The Christian tale of Saint Josaphat is roughly based on the life of the Buddha in a kind of medieval game of telephone, in which the sources for the text passed through Christian circles in the Middle East in the 8th century before appearing in European versions in the 11th century. 

      Here an unsuitably dressed guest—we can see that his tattered clothing and scruffy facial hair have no place at the well-dressed gathering—is cast into the dark, open mouth of a terrifying animal. 

      To make matters worse, the story is a parable in which Barlaam, Josaphat’s Christian teacher, describes the sinful who do not make the cut at the Last Judgment.

      Holiday Lesson: Always check the dress code.

      #ThyCaptionBe is a celebration of modern interpretations of medieval aesthetics. You guess what the heck is going on, then we myth-bust.


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