Behind the Scenes

World Cup Fever Grips the Getty

Looking around the room, I see a virtual United Nations in the grip of soccer fever.

Her parents are from Mexico and El Salvador, but her team is the Black Stars of Ghana.

She was born in Nicaragua, and cheers like wild for Uruguay: “Dale, dale, dale!”

He was born in Germany, lived in Portugal, and is married to a woman from France…he’s now rooting for Germany, but it’s been a tough tournament.

And when the English- language feed went down one day and the game was switched to a Portuguese station, heads turned as we all realized how many of our coworkers speak Portuguese!

World Cup fever has once again come to the Getty!

Like many organizations in Los Angeles, the 1500+ employees of the J. Paul Getty Trust come from all over the world, and many have grown up with soccer in their blood. Three World Cup tournaments ago (during World Cup 2002, hosted by South Korea and Japan), a Getty visiting scholar (and soccer fan) approached the scholar program staff to ask about watching the games. Lunchtime viewing parties were organized, and their popularity ensured a new World Cup viewing tradition at the Getty.

The agony and ecstasy of soccer--over lunch in the Getty Research Institute Lecture Hall

The agony and ecstasy of soccer—over lunch in the Getty Research Institute Lecture Hall

Move around the offices, corridors, and galleries at the Getty this last month and you’d hear talk of strategy, favorite teams and players, old rivalries, and rankings. Team colors were evident across the Getty campus, and the sound of vuvuzelas (okay, they were actually vuvuzela iPhone apps) was heard from the viewing room, together with the collective sighs and cheers of the captive Getty crowd.

Personally, I had picked Spain to go all the way, but with Germany (the land of my heritage) playing with such skill and confidence, I’m revising my original thoughts. Today I’m wearing black, red, and gold and will join my colleagues at lunch to watch the semi-final game between Spain and Germany.

There’s so much more to write about this wonderfully fun Getty tradition, but right now, I’ve got a game to watch…

Getty staff watching soccer over lunch in the Getty Research Institute Lecture Hall

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      The histories of many colors are amazing, but cobalt may well have the most brilliant of them all. From the Ming Dynasty to Renaissance Italy, cobalt was a popular glaze for porcelain and other ceramics. Cobalt ink is invisible unless exposed to flame, which turns it a vivid green. In the 17th century, this quality made Europeans believe it was witchcraft, but decades later it was used as a neat trick on fire screens. It wasn’t until 1802 that painters added cobalt to their palette. 

      It is this little tidbit from cobalt’s history that saved master forger Han van Meergeren’s skin after WWII, when he was tried for collaborating with the Nazis. Want to find out how some art history sleuthing and smart science got him a not guilty verdict? Hint: Don’t try to forge a Vermeer with cobalt! 

      Read all about it in The Brilliant History of Color in Art!

      Images, clockwise:

      Glazed earthenware dish with a marchant ship, Italy, about 1510. 

      Glazed earthenware tile floor, Spain, about 1425-50.

      Porcelain lidded vase, China, about 1662-1772.

      All objects from the J. Paul Getty Museum. 


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