Behind the Scenes, Getty Research Institute, J. Paul Getty Museum

We Answer Your Questions for Ask-a-Curator Day

Julian Brooks of the Getty Museum's Department of Drawings with an #askthecurator sign

#Curator with hashtag: Julian Brooks, our expert on Italian drawings, in his office

Today is international Ask a Curator Day, when hundreds of museums around the world are calling for questions for curators on pretty much any subject under the sun. We’ve been collecting your questions here on The Iris, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. You can ask about art, the collection, what goes on here at the Getty, books, history, anything—even about whether it really is awesome to be a curator (spoiler alert: yes).

We’ll be posting questions and answers throughout the day, adding more as they come in. Make sure to check out what other museums have answered on Twitter.

And the Answers Are…

Just for Fun
Tell Us Your Secrets
How Are Exhibitions Born?
Cool Job. How’d You Get It?
Why So Racy?
Inside the Collection
What Art Moves You?
How Do You Keep Art Safe?

Just for Fun

If Jackie Chan were to be attacked in your museum, what is the best item in your collection to defeat his enemies?
—@bannedlibrary on Twitter

I’m sure the artist wouldn’t approve, but imagine the traps and fights that Jackie Chan could set up in the garden Robert Irwin designed for the Getty Center—he’d be able to take out any villains there!
—John Tain, Modern and Contemporary Collections, Getty Research Institute

Tell Us Your Secrets

When the Museum is closed, do you spend time visiting the collection/exhibitions?
—@cbfh on Twitter

Sometimes, but the galleries are generally locked up (although we do have access) and there is a lot to be done in the office, storerooms, and conservation labs that usually claims a lot of attention.
—Kenneth Lapatin, Antiquities, Getty Museum

Yes, we do. When galleries are closed to the public, curators (and many members of the staff) take the opportunity to de- or reinstall objects, to meet in the galleries to discuss better displays, and to understand how a decision about lending this or that object will affect the galleries.
Anne-Lise Desmas, Sculpture & Decorative Arts, Getty Museum

Yes, I do! We had an exhibition about the Belles Heures, a famous manuscript of the Middle Ages on loan from the Metropolitan Museum in New York. I came one hour early to work every week to spend that time with the pages. It was the only way to get through the entire exhibition.
—Elizabeth Morrison, Manuscripts, Getty Museum

Please describe the emotions you experience when you unpack an artifact or relic and it is something you have an interest in or specialize in.
—Venetia on The Iris

Great excitement, pleasure, intrigue, and curiosity! It’s a sense of wonder when you see the real thing, finally, that you might only have known through photographs.
—Antonia Boström, Sculpture and Decorative Arts, Getty Museum

It’s intensely satisfying. Unpacking loans arriving for an exhibition are my favorite moments in an installation, especially when I haven’t seen the works in person before. I’m never disappointed!
—Jens Daehner, Antiquities, Getty Museum

It’s a very exciting and emotional part of the job, because often these are works that one knows from having seen them in other collections or in books. To actually encounter an object up close and personal as the crate is opened is an indescribable feeling. You feel like you have an intimate connection with that work of art.
—Claire Lyons, Antiquities, Museum

How Are Exhibitions Born?

How do curators come up with ideas for exhibitions?
—Diana on Facebook

This varies, of course, but for me I would say principally by encountering materials in the Research Institute’s special collections that have not been studied and are visually compelling. Sometimes it starts with just a few items, and as I explore the collections further, I discover a whole body of related material. An example would be the printed matter and concrete poetry of Ian Hamilton Finlay. You can also start with an idea (such as an exhibition on John Cage) and discover that although we own some of his scores and manuscripts, we don’t have a critical mass to create an exhibition.
—Nancy Perloff, Modern and Contemporary Collections, Getty Research Institute

Exhibition ideas come out of things you studied before. My dissertation on the Trojan legend grew into an exhibition called Imagining the Past in France. It was rooted in studies done ahead of time. An exhibition’s origin doesn’t always have to be scholarly, however. Medieval Beasts was an exhibition that showed some of my personal interests—I’ve been fascinated by the roles of animals in society. Animals in the Middle Ages had a different roles than they do today, and it’s interesting how that has changed.
—Elizabeth Morrison, Manuscripts, Getty Museum

For me personally, a great exhibition is one that responds to a need that no one quite knew existed. For instance, the recent Ends of the Earth exhibition at MOCA was wonderful because it took something people thought they knew—Earth Art—and totally changed prevailing ideas about what it was all about. Everyone knows about the monumental pieces, like Michael Heizer’s Double Negative or Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, that were made out in the American desert. But I’m willing to bet that few knew about the Icelandic Hreinn Fridfinnsson or the Israeli Micha Ullman, or the Japanese Group “i,” or that much of the important work was actually being produced for television? In other words, the element of surprise, or maybe revelation, is an important one to consider in thinking about exhibitions.
—John Tain, Modern and Contemporary Collections, Getty Research Institute

In the case of the current exhibition Messerschmidt and Modernity, it arose out of our acquisition of the Vexed Man and my ongoing interest in this sculptor and the reception of his character heads by patrons, collectors and artists from the 19th century onwards.
—Antonia Boström, Sculpture & Decorative Arts, Getty Museum

There are many paths. Sometimes the idea is suggested by an object in the collection, around which other objects in other museums cluster. Borrowing those objects illuminates the one we have and results in an exhibition. At the Getty Villa we do a lot of conservation-loan-exhibition projects, where we borrow objects from partner institutions that are in bad shape for one reason or another. We fix them up, display them for a period of time here, and send them back better than they were. a true win-win situation. Other ideas arise from research interestsor from seeing other exhibitions. For example, there have been several Pompeii exhibitions over the years (hundreds actually), and these usuallyand quite reasonablyfocus on the archaeology of Pompeii.  Often at the end they have a coda or a section on the afterlife of the city. One of these exhibitions made me think that the modern reception of Pompeii was more than just an add-on and, critically and thoughtfully examined, could be the subject of an exhibition of its own. Thus was born the current Villa exhibition The Last Days of Pompeii: Decadence, Apocalypse, Resurrection, which is non-archaeological, examining the influence of Pompeii in the art of the last four centuries since its rediscovery in the early 1700s.
—Kenneth Lapatin, Antiquities, Getty Museum

Cool Job. How’d You Get It?

How did you fall into this line of work? How did you get this job?
—@EC_Duncan on Twitter

In my case it was rather providential. I was teaching ancient art history at Boston University, working on a project with the Getty’s Antiquities Department when a position opened up and I was invited to apply. As a classical archaeologist I had long worked in museums, but never for a museumuntil then. The prospect was just too good to pass up.
—Kenneth Lapatin, Antiquities, Getty Museum

The position I originally had at the Research Institute was “Collection Development Specialist,” and I worked almost exclusively on acquisitions but did have the opportunity to curate one exhibition (The Eye and the Ear: New Directions in Twentieth-Century Musical Notation.) Exhibitions have been a particular passion of mine ever since. The draw of the curatorial job is the combination of scholarship with hands-on work with objects.
—Nancy Perloff, Modern and Contemporary Collections, Getty Research Institute

Having done internships with various dealers, auction houses, and museums, I decided that only museum work offered a long-term relationship with works of art, investigating and researching them over time, and that I enjoyed presenting them to visitors and seeing their reactions.
—Julian Brooks, Drawings, Getty Museum

I was an unusual case. I had the opportunity, when I was 16, to take an art history class in high school. I fell in love with medieval art. I just knew that’s what I wanted to do. We had a great museum in Kansas City, Missouri, that had a strong medieval collection. I was finishing my PhD when I got my job at the Getty, my first paying job as an art professional. I’ve been here for 15 years.
—Elizabeth Morrison, Manuscripts, Getty Museum

What is the educational path to becoming a curator? Is it primarily through the study of the history of art?
—Liz on Facebook

Generally speaking, and this is definitely the case with old European art, an advanced degree in art history, usually a PhD, is required of a curator, especially in today’s tough job market. As one former mentor told me, a doctorate basically served as your “union card.”
—Scott Allan, Paintings, Getty Museum

Yes, I have a master’s degree and a PhD in art history. My major field of study was medieval manuscripts, so it’s very specific. You probably need at least a master’s degree. Medieval art is such a specific field: in order to study medieval manuscripts you have to know Latin, medieval history, and palaeography (the study of handwriting).
—Elizabeth Morrison, Manuscripts, Getty Museum

Yes, primarily, but there are other paths. For example, I and many of my colleagues in the Getty Museum’s Department of Antiquities studied classical philology (Greek and Latin languages and literature), ancient history, and/or classical archaeology.  These days you usually have to get a doctorate in order to make a career of it.
—Kenneth Lapatin, Antiquities, Getty Museum

Yes, it’s essential to study art history to become a curator (except perhaps if you are a curator of rare books or musical instruments). Curators usually have an M.A. and more commonly now a PhD in art history or archaeology. According to their field of specialization (manuscripts, antiquities, paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, photography etc.), these art historians may apply to/be hired by museums whose collections fit with and require their specific expertise.
Anne-Lise Desmas, Sculpture & Decorative Arts, Getty Museum

The path to becoming a curator is long and arduous. I have a BA, MA and PhD in art history. But more importantly you need to have museum experience. I worked as an intern/research assistant in various museums throughout my studies. Studying art from books is not the same as working closely with objects and hands-on experience gives you a leg up when applying for curator positions.
—Stephanie Schrader, Drawings, Getty Museum

On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being terrible and 10 being amazing), how would you rate your job? And why?
—‏@PhilEchols on Twitter

I give it a 10. My job is amazing. I love what I do. I feel very privileged to have a job at the best museum for medieval manuscripts in the country.
—Elizabeth Morrison, Manuscripts, Getty Museum

No job is perfect, but I would give it a 9.5. There are many reasons: wonderful colleagues, the possibility to work with and handle remarkable objects, and a truly beautiful work environment (the Getty Villa) are three that immediately come to mind.
—Kenneth Lapatin, Antiquities, Getty Museum

I’d rate my job at 8. My job is exactly the one I wanted to do when I started my studies—and moreover, in a museum with an amazing collection and working environment. I just can’t say 10 because it can become even better, since I’m still at the beginning of my career!
—Anne-Lise Desmas, Sculpture & Decorative Arts, Getty Museum

I’d rate it at 9, as I’d also like to have a little more to strive for!
—Antonia Boström, Sculpture & Decorative Arts, Getty Museum

I have aspirations to become a curator. What advice do you have for younger students aiming to get in to this line of work? How do you become a successful curator?
Combined from similar questions posted by @Alyssa_Trudeau on Twitter, Wendy on The Iris, and Diana on Facebook

A good curator is not only someone who can translate their enthusiasm for the art they love, but also who knows that there’s a lot out there to be discovered. See as much art as you can, and then see some more. And good research skills are essential for deepening the understanding of the work. That includes talking to people—artists, other curators, anyone—about the art.
—John Tain, Modern and Contemporary Collections, Getty Research Institute

It’s a good idea to become a specialist in a particular field, whether art history, archaeology, history, medieval studies, or science. As a student, you can also get involved with your university museum, working with the collection and organizing exhibitions to get practical, hands-on, applied museum skills under your belt.
—Jens Daehner, Antiquities, Getty Museum

A number of curators start in college studying art history, but there are many different kinds of museums, so having a background in fields such as history, science, or archaeology can also lead to a museum career. Often a graduate degree is needed, and knowledge of foreign languages and travel or field experience may also be important for the research aspects of the job. Some people seek out internship opportunities in galleries, university museums, or other public institutions. That’s part of the practical side—learn by doing. Never underestimate volunteering. That’s how a number of curators got their first introduction to museums.
—Claire Lyons, Antiquities, Museum

What makes a successful curator is a hard question: One who puts on interesting exhibitions that excite and enlighten the public, one who cares for, builds, learns about, and illuminates the permanent collection.
—Kenneth Lapatin, Antiquities, Getty Museum

What makes a successful curator? That needs a long and comprehensive response! We all have different ideas, but one cardinal rule would be to remember that you’re working in a museum or gallery because of its collections, and to always circle back to the object and its material importance—otherwise, you’re an academic.
—Antonia Boström, Sculpture & Decorative Arts, Getty Museum

Why So Racy?

Why do museums show so much nudity?
—Stephenson on Facebook

Because for thousands of years the human body has been an important subject for artists, certainly in the western tradition. As a curator of the Getty’s ancient Greek and Roman collections, I’m quite accustomed to it and almost don’t notice any more. It’s less common in ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian art, and quite rare in the Middle Ages. It returns in the Renaissance, the rebirth of antiquity.
—Kenneth Lapatin, Antiquities, Getty Museum

Museums do not show nudity, they show works of art from their collections, which, according to the period they date from, may feature nudity. Greek and Roman gods and goddesses were usually represented nude, and the artist was charged with enhancing the beauty of their bodies; thus in the periods in which mythological themes are the most represented subjects in works of art, nudity is common. Depicting an ideal of the human body, whether or not that ideal is based on the canons of beauty followed in antiquity, has always been a challenge artists eagerly took on. A museum with collections strong in ancient art, in the art of the Renaissance, or/and in early modern and modern art cannot avoid showing works of art featuring nudity. Plus, of course, nudity and the human body are part of life. Museums should be spaces of freedom, and curators don’t want to censor what should or should not be shown; we show works of art of great quality, whatever they feature!
—Anne-Lise Desmas, Sculpture & Decorative Arts, Getty Museum

Inside the Collection

What are your favorite works in your collection?
—@museumpaige on Twitter

I’d have to think for a week! But here are two: Portrait of a Bearded Man, an expressive over-lifesize portrait of a Hellenistic ruler; and Group of a Seated Poet and Sirens, large-scale painted terracotta sculptures with unusual iconography.
—Jens Daehner, Antiquities, Getty Museum

This is a rather difficult question to answer given the size and breadth of our collection, but I’ve selected two: Rebecca at Dr. Stieglitz’s Mamaroneck, New York by Paul Strand (1920),  and ID 400 Project, #201-300 by Tomoko Sawada (1998).
—Arpad Kovacs, Photographs, Getty Museum

Well, it may sound odd but I don’t have one answer. I’m not a parent but perhaps it would be like asking a parent who is his or her favorite child. I’m in charge of many objects, and among them some appeal more to my aesthetic taste, while others intrigue me by being real technical tours-de-force; some remind me of dear friends or moments of my life, while others pique my curiosity because I’m still investigating the name of the artist or the model represented; some amaze me because if they could speak, they could tell us so much about important historical characters…I could go on for many pages.
—Anne-Lise Desmas, Sculpture & Decorative Arts, Getty Museum

ID 400 Project, #201-300 / Tomoko Sawada

ID 400 Project, #201-300, 1998, Tomoko Sawada. Gelatin silver print, 47 7/8 x 37 1/4 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2008.42. © Tomoko Sawada

Are there pieces in your collection that you feel a need to commune with (bid good morning, view on a good day)?
—@And_Rasta on Twitter

Maybe not the need, but on a closed day I love to spend time alone with the Poet and Sirens group. For me, it’s a piece about the power of music and the act of listening. The viewer needs to fill in imagined sounds to make the work complete. So it’s very meditative.
—Jens Daehner, Antiquities, Getty Museum

What’s your favorite work by a woman artist in your collection? Why?
—@ArtWorldWomen on Twitter

As part of the Pacific Standard Time initiative last year, I had the good fortune to get to know better a few of the extraordinary artists who work here in Southern California. Among them, Suzanne Lacy stands out for her breathtaking intelligence and her nimble ability to mobilize entire communities through her work. In Mourning and In Rage, a piece Lacy produced in collaboration with Leslie Labowitz-Starus in 1977 (a photo of which is the Research Institute’s special collections), is compelling not only for the ways it effects political change, indeed almost choreographs the politicans it engages into making it happen, but also for its fundamental rethinking of the very form of performance art itself.
—John Tain, Modern and Contemporary Collections, Getty Research Institute

Does the Getty Villa have any artifacts from Villa of the Papyri?
—‏@sramanujan on Twitter

We don’t have original artifacts from the ancient Roman villa in Herculaneum on which our Museum is modeled, but we do have objects that come from nearby Pompeii and other sites in that area.
—Claire Lyons, Antiquities, Getty Museum

We also have replicas of the bronze sculptures found at that villa in the Getty Villa’s gardens, and frescoes from other Roman villas (here’s one example) and a mosaic from a Roman villa in Gaul, in the south of France.
—Jens Daehner, Antiquities, Getty Museum

What Art Moves You?

What work of art most affected you personally and why?
—Maryfrances on Facebook

I would say Russian Futurist books have most affected me. It seems so extraordinary that each of Goncharova’s collage covers for the book Worldbackwards (1912) differed from every other, in an edition of 220. Variations not only in collage materials, but in handwriting, are endlessly fascinating.
—Nancy Perloff, Modern and Contemporary Collections, Getty Research Institute

I remember walking past a group of early-20th-century paintings at the Art Gallery of Ontario when I was young and suddenly seeing a large, stark landscape by the painter Lawren Harris, which I think stopped me in my tracks. The simple forms combined with a restrained palette produced something quite profound. While my tastes have changed since that museum visit, I still make a point of seeing paintings by Harris when possible.
—Arpad Kovacs, Photographs, Getty Museum

That’s a hard question: endless numbers of works, and these have changed over the years. In school when I did an art “A” level (the equivalent of the baccalaureat in the British educational system), I often copied or was inspired by Botticelli (yes, sorry!), and I loved Renaissance art. Now, I might be drawn to the German Romantics, such as Caspar David Friedrich, or the paintings of the Danish 19th-century painter Vilhelm Hammarshoi, etc. In sculpture (my main field!) I love terracotta or wax models, which often show the spirit of an artist better than the finished works in marble or bronze: they have a visceral effect through their movement and virtuoso technique.
—Antonia Boström, Sculpture & Decorative Arts, Getty Museum

When I was a student in England (I’m British), I took a trip to Italy to see some of the works of art first-hand. I went by bus to Volterra, a seemingly never-ending journey on sick-making winding roads. When I was finally there—and feeling slightly recovered—I went to the pinacoteca (picture gallery) and came across Rosso Fiorentino’s Deposition. I was gobsmacked and just stared at it for hours. It had such strong light and colors, and was filled with anguish and silent screams…it was so powerful to me. Yet in the background is the most amazing sky, shifting almost imperceptibly from a light blue on the horizon to a dark blue-black at the top, just as it does when night is about to fall. I was amazed by the combination of the serene and the violent.
—Julian Brooks, Drawings, Getty Museum

The first time I went to study an actual medieval manuscript in Paris in 1993. It was a manuscript about the Trojan legend, the story of Troy, and I just remember what an incredible experience it was. With a manuscript, unlike a lot of other forms of art, you have to physically handle it in order to see it. It’s not like a painting on a wall. I remember thinking it was such a synesthetic experience. I was using my eyes, I was using my fingers, it was tactile. I was using my nose; the parchment has a distinctive smell. The pages make noise as you turn them, and all those things together made for such an experience.
—Elizabeth Morrison, Manuscripts, Getty Museum

There are several, but the cause is usually similar—extremely moving beauty. This is highly subjective of course, but for me what immediately comes to mind are various pieces of ancient Greek sculpture. The best pieces, in my view, are in museums around the Mediterranean. One, the so-called “charioteer” from the island of Mozia off the western coast of Sicily, will be coming to the Getty for a special exhibition next spring.
—Kenneth Lapatin, Antiquities, Getty Museum

One work of art that moved me to tears was Vermeer’s View of Delft in the Maurithuis collection in the Hague in the Netherlands. It’s an iconic painting from the Dutch Golden Age, but I had never seen it in person. When I finally did, I cried. No reproduction had prepared me for the portrayal of light. I just couldn’t believe that an artist could capture light so convincingly.
—Stephanie Schrader, Drawings, Museum

How Do You Keep Art Safe?

How are manuscripts housed at the Museum? Are they always on exhibit? If not, are they available on request? And do manuscripts need special care?
—Lucia on Facebook

We have a collection of over 200 objects and display about 20 to 25 in our gallery at any give time. They are very light sensitive, so we can only have them on display for three months at a time. We limit their exposure. The rest of the time they’re stored in a secure, fireproof, humidity- and temperature-controlled storage area. We do accept applications to see manuscripts but, because of their fragile nature, we review the applications carefully to make sure that the need of the scholar justifies getting the manuscript out.

And yes, manuscripts need special care! They are written on parchment, so we have to keep them carefully controlled from humidity and temperature—especially humidity. The paintings in the manuscripts are light-sensitive so we keep careful track of how many times each image is on display in the gallery.
—Elizabeth Morrison, Manuscripts, Getty Museum

What is the best way to control the deterioration of works on paper that have acid in their composition? For example, works created with newsprint or cardboard?
—George on Facebook

There’s more than one approach to take. Deterioration of paper is exacerbated by temperature and humidity. If you have the wrong combination, it can accelerate the deterioration. In the Museum we have a controlled environment to slow the progress of degradation. Also, you don’t want paper to have contact with anything acidic, so we use acid-free folders or envelopes and acid-free boxes for photographs. We have low light levels in the Museum [in galleries displaying works on paper], and we have glazing with built-in filters for ultraviolet rays. The most degrading waves of light are filtered out.
—Nancy Yocco, Paper Conservation, Getty Museum

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  1. Venetia
    Posted September 19, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Please describe the emotions you experience when you unpack an artifact or relic and is something you have an interest in or specialize in.

    • Annelisa Stephan
      Posted September 19, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      Hi Venetia, Great question! Here’s what our sr. curator of sculpture and decorative arts, Antonia Boström, had to say. (She blogged about recent experiences here.) Adding these to the blog post above, with any other answers that come in.

      “Great excitement, pleasure, intrigue, and curiosity! It’s a sense of wonder when you see the real thing, finally, that you might only have known through photographs.” -Antonia

      And here’s from Jens Daehner, curator of antiquities at the Getty Villa:

      “It is intensely satisfying. Unpacking loans arriving for an exhibition are my favorite moments in an installation, especially when I haven’t seen the works in person before. I’m never disappointed!” -Jens

  2. Posted September 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I kept hearing this phrase, “Collaborate or Die” and I don’t want to die so 3 years ago, with a sigh of resignation, I dipped my toe into the collaborative sewer that I was sure would taint my art and distort my voice. 3 years later I am emerging from this sewer swim unable to even recognize myself but with the certain knowledge that the reflection before me is now greater than what I was before. I would even go so far as to confess that my art is the better for it despite the fact that collaboration is in direct opposition to my natural personality as an introvert.

    Now, my projects are about choosing a team of people that will create just enough tension to hold the concept in focus but freedom to also allow the ideas to merge, integrate, and grow. Learning to let go of MY concept an allow it to become OUR concept is the lesson that pushes me forward in my own personal and professional growth as an artist. Likewise, collaborating with non-artists helps them to appreciate the process of creating art and grow in creative problem solving skills. As a professional conceptual artist I took the lead on a recent collaboration and worked as creative director. We did a photoshoot and produced and installation exhibit which was really well received and will remain on display till through October here in LA. Now we need a cutting edge curator to really take this idea forward… but first me must address these questions:

    Is this “experience” art? If so, what kind? Is it conceptual art, relational art, collaborative art or something else all together? How do artists like myself present this type of project to curators and how do we communicate it with museum and gallery directors in a way that they can understand that the result of the project are not nearly as important as what happened between the people in the project and that the project is ongoing and their contribution as curator adds something to it that changes it forever?

    Here is a Recent Project Profile to give you a better idea of what I am talking about.

    The premise: 9 people met online and became friends, a year or so later they decided to take their relationships OFFLINE…

    They met through a forum on facebook for extreme introverts, the kind of people who rarely get out from behind the computer. Somewhere along the journey several of them decided to meet in person and participate in a photoshoot with a theme of Steampunk. They collaborated and planned online for 2 months creating their own costumes and storyline and then flew to LA to spend a long weekend getting to know each other in person and participate in the creative endeavor.

    The participants were not artists. Their professions included, children’s cancer research, immigration lawyer, head hunter, working with children with borderline peronality disorder, studying to be a nurse, conceptual artist and other serious professsions. They all met in an MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) forum online for INTJ’s (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging.) INTJ’s comprise less than 2% of the population and are known as masterminds, rationals, and scientists and they usually can be found with their nose behind a book.

    The experience of meeting in person was the actual art. The work they produced as a result of that meeting was nice, but the relationship development is what spurred the creative endeavor and is what is most interesting about the project.

    BIG QUESTION: How do we go forward with this concept and who would be the best curator for this type of work?

    BTW, I am at the Getty today and can be reached on my cell phone at 270-243-0444.
    I appreciate the opportunity to ask a curator about a real life project that needs curation.

    • Annelisa Stephan
      Posted September 20, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      Hi Gretchen, What an interesting project. Almost like creating art where the raw materials are people and interactions, rather than paints and canvas? From what I read here, it sounds like there is a curator for the project — you! In this case a curator would be

      My advice would be to find a gallery or museum (or specific curator) who specializes in the kind of art you’re working on and contact him/her, or the department most relevant. At the Getty Museum we don’t typically exhibit a lot of contemporary work, but many local museums and galleries do.

      I hope you found inspiration at the Getty today, best wishes for success in your project!

      -Annelisa / Iris editor

  3. Jill
    Posted May 3, 2013 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    I’m doing some research on a small pitcher that has a stamp of a Spartan soldier or King, with the Greek word ACMNA near stamp. It’s signed by D. Vassilopoulos, a straight line over the a. Handmade and painted in Greece. Written also on bottom is Berlin Museum and school scene about 460-480 BC. The Staatlichen Museum of Berlin has Douris’s school cup which I found in the Beazley archive. It is similar to Douris’s theme but mine is a pitcher. Of all the pieces I’ve seen on Ebay for sale this one is different with the Attic quality paint and the way the artist signed and picture stamp. I have photos of it. If you can give me any information on it that would be really great.

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      It’s been 125 years since Van Gogh’s death, today we celebrate his life’s work.

      5 Ways to See Van Gogh’s Irises

      Through observations, visitor conversations, and some sneaky eavesdropping, we’ve compiled the top 5 ways people enjoy this painting.

      1. In a Crowd
        One of the most obvious ways that people see the painting is in a crowd. The gallery is almost always filled, and you might have to wait before you can get up close. The anticipation builds as you start in the back row, and slowly move until you are close enough to see the brushstrokes of Van Gogh’s thick paint.

      2. Online
        David from Colorado said that this was his first visit, but he had already seen the painting online. In addition to being available through the Getty’s Open Content program, the painting is often seen on social media. Just search #irises on Instagram for a taste of the painting’s popularity. 

      3. Alone
        If you arrive right at 10 a.m. when the museum opens, the quiet gallery provides a perfect backdrop to really examine the painting. Solitude and seclusion gives the gallery a sense of intimacy. 

      4. Multiple Times
        Repeat visits can give rise to multiple interpretations. Is it a melancholy or joyous painting? Expressive or depressive? 

      5. Internationally
        Visitors from all across the world viewed this famous Van Gogh. In just one hour you can hear multiple languages—French, Italian, Chinese, Korean, German, and more. Irises seems to rise above cultural boundaries—a Dutch painting inspired by Japanese ukiyo-e prints—to strike an emotional resonance amongst all viewers. 

      What is your favorite lens to view Van Gogh’s work through? 


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