From Stone Age sculpture to contemporary architecture, 6,500 years of art from the collections of the Getty Museum and the Getty Research Institute

Also posted in Getty Research Institute, Photographs, Film, and Video, Scholarship

What Is the Future of the Photo Archive?

Collage of photos and documents from the Photo Archive of the Getty Research Institute

In the digital world, what will happen to the photo archive? More»

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Also posted in Behind the Scenes, J. Paul Getty Museum, Prints and Drawings

Behind the Scenes of a Special Exhibition at the Getty

Maxime LaLanne / Castle Overlooking a River
Gift of Richard A. Simms.

How a drawings show takes shape. More»

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Also posted in Architecture and Design

Modernism’s Maverick: A Conversation with Harry Gesner

Harry Gesner portrait featured

“Nature is my teacher, rather than other architecture. I don’t study other people’s work.” More»

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Also posted in #GettyInspired, J. Paul Getty Museum, Paintings

L.A. Band Writes Techno Music Inspired by Van Gogh


Van Gogh’s painting inspires a song “Drowning in Irises” by Dance Spirit More»

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Also posted in Ancient World, Getty Villa, Photographs, Film, and Video

Athens through a Panoramic Lens

The Philopappos Monument and the Acropolis from Mouseion Hill, 2015
The Philopappos Monument and the Acropolis from Mouseion Hill, 2015

Dramatic panoramas of Athens evoke the past in the present. More»

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Also posted in Exhibitions and Installations, J. Paul Getty Museum, Manuscripts and Books

Talking the Global Middle Ages with Curator Bryan Keene

Bryan Keene

Curator Bryan Keene takes questions from inquiring Instagrammers More»

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Also posted in #GettyInspired

Latte Art Inspired by Van Gogh’s “Irises”

Latte art inspired by Vincent van Gogh

Coffee + art + flowers = happiness. More»

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Also posted in Photographs, Film, and Video

Photos of L.A. Beneath the Noir

Hollywood Cougar, 2013, Steve Winter
Hollywood Cougar, 2013, Steve Winter

Pictures of L.A., beyond the stereotypes. More»

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Also posted in Scholarship

Global Pathways through Medieval Manuscripts and the Modern Museum

Global inspiration from the Getty permanent collection.
Global inspiration from the Getty permanent collection.

Contextualizing early book arts in world history. More»

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      A Chat with Photographer Tomoko Sawada

      A conversation about Japanese matchmaking traditions, self-portraiture, clothes, and identity.

      When did you start photographing yourself?
      I began making self-portraits when I was 19. It was an assignment for a photography class. I can’t even explain in Japanese why I liked them so much. It was instinctual. It’s as if I knew that this was going to be my style, that this is what I wanted to do. And I’m still doing it because I love the self-portrait, but I don’t know why. 

      What themes are you exploring in your work?
      I’m interested in the relationship between inside and outside. If you wear a sexy dress or if you wear kids clothes or casual clothes, people treat you differently. Even though you are you no matter what you wear. It’s that relationship that makes me think. 

      My new work is from when I was living in New York. When I was in New York, people didn’t think I was Japanese. Sometimes they thought I was Korean or Chines or Mongolian. Even Singaporean. It was funny, when I would go to the Japanese market, they would speak to me in English. When I went to the Korean market, they would speak to me in English again. I don’t seem to look Japanese outside of Japan. I was surprised because I think I look totally Japanese. It’s funny that people’s points of view are totally different.

      Could you talk a little about OMIAI, the series that represents a traditional Japanese matchmaking technique.
      OMIAI is a tradition that is somehow still working today. Usually, there is a matchmaker and photographs are exchanged before meeting. If both sides are interested, they can meet for lunch or dinner accompanied by their parents and steps for marriage proceed from there. In the old days, some people chose their marriage partner just through photographs, without even meeting each other. 

      When OMIAI was exhibited in Japan I saw people making various comments in from of the work. People would say things like, “she looks like a good cook; surely she would prepare delicious meals every day,” or “ this girl could be a perfect bride for my son,” or “I can tell she would not be a good housewife,” or “she’s such a graceful girl; she must be the daughter of a decent family.” Comments like that. 

      What was the process of making that work?
      I gained 10 pounds before I started taking the pictures, and in six months I lost forty pounds, because I wanted to look different in each photo. I wanted to change the way my legs looked. 

      Every weekend I went to the hair salon and put on a kimono. Then I went to the photo studio on the street in Japan. I would take a picture and then change my clothes to western dress. Then I would go to the studio again the next weekend. 

      Did you tell the photographer how you wanted it done?
      I told him I was an artist and wanted to make photographs with him. I told him to think that each weekend new girls would show up to make the OMIAI. I didn’t want him to think of me as the same girl who came every weekend. He understood the concept. 

      We had fun. While he was taking pictures, his wife would tell me how to lose weight. She gave me many tips.

      Tomoko Sawada’s work is on view at the Getty until February 21, 2016 in “The Younger Generation: Contemporary Japanese Photography”


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