With an artistic career that began with political cartoons in his college newspaper, Romare Bearden moved between mediums and styles throughout his life, although his artistic breakthroughs did not come without hard work. Over the course of a long career that spanned a tumultuous period in the fight for representation and civil rights for African Americans in the United States, Bearden became a deeply influential artist. Art historian Mary Schmidt Campbell delves into Bearden’s fascinating life and career in her new book An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare Bearden, which is the topic of this podcast episode.
Campbell is President of Spelman College and Dean Emerita of the Tisch School of the Arts. She served as the vice chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities under former president Barack Obama.
How is dripping water into a vessel a musical performance? Or the release of a butterfly into a space? Or washing one’s face?
These three events are all proposed in scores created by Fluxus artists, an international, anti-art community of composers, poets, visual artists, and performers dedicated to testing and blurring the line between art and life. These three performances are also just some of the many Fluxus scores being enacted as part of the LA Philharmonic’s season-long Fluxus Festival, organized in collaboration with the Getty Research Institute.
As the Fluxus Festival draws to a close, conductor and composer Christopher Rountree, who curated the festival, and GRI curator Nancy Perloff discuss evocative scores by John Cage, La Monte Young, Ben Patterson, George Brecht, and others.
Founded during the tumultuous year of 1968, the Studio Museum in Harlem recently celebrated its 50th year of showcasing the work of artists of African descent. In this episode, Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of the Studio Museum, discusses the history and evolution of this important institution, from its various homes (including its new building project with architect David Adjaye and his firm Adjaye Associates) to the powerful curators who have shaped it into the future-focused institution it is today. All the while, Golden highlights the importance of the Studio Museum’s place in its community locally, nationally, and internationally.
Florence in the late 1520s was a place of turmoil, as powerful families vied for political and economic control of the city. Throughout the unrest, painter Jacopo da Pontormo continued to paint captivating works of art, including the Portrait of Carlo Neroni, the Getty’s Portrait of a Halberdier, and his great masterpiece, the Visitation.
In this episode, Getty paintings curator Davide Gasparotto walks through the exhibition Pontormo: Miraculous Encounters exploring the history and significance of the incredible works of art on view. Situating these three paintings together, alongside preparatory drawings by Pontormo and a painting by his contemporary Agnolo Bronzino, provides new insight into Pontormo’s style and technique during this tumultuous period in Florentine life and politics.
Nineteenth-century photographer Carleton Watkins is perhaps best known for his photographs of Yosemite, which inspired the preservation of this land and, later, the creation of the National Parks system in the United States. But his unusual life and tumultuous career is rarely examined. In this episode, art historian Tyler Green discusses Watkins and the impact of his photographs. Green is author of Carleton Watkins: Making the West American and host of the podcast Modern Art Notes.
Although 19th century photographer Julia Margaret Cameron did not pick up her first camera until the age of 49, the artistically composed and printed images she made during her short career were both groundbreaking for their time and an inspiration to artists long after her death. In this episode, Getty photography curator Karen Hellman discusses three biographies of Cameron: one by her grandniece Virginia Woolf, one by art critic Roger Fry, and one by Cameron herself. These biographies were recently published together by Getty Publications in the book Julia Margaret Cameron, part of the Lives of the Artists series.
When Arthur Drexler retired in 1986 from the Museum of Modern Art, New York, he was the longest-serving curator and department head in the history of the Museum, a distinction he holds to this day. Hired in 1951 by Philip Johnson, the first director of the Museum’s groundbreaking Department of Architecture and Design, Drexler promoted a wide range of architects and saw great changes to architectural theory and practice during his thirty-five-year tenure. In this episode, historian Thomas Hines discusses the early history of the Department of Architecture and Design under Philip Johnson before delving into the background and career of Arthur Drexler.
Hines is professor emeritus of history and architecture at the University of California, Los Angeles and the author of the new book by Getty Publications Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art: The Arthur Drexler Years, 1951-1986.
Contemporary artist Tacita Dean works in many mediums to create a varied and compelling body of work, from collections of four-leaf clovers to chalk drawings to filmed portraits of artists. In 2018, a wide array of these works was on view during three simultaneous exhibitions in London: one at the National Portrait Gallery, one at the National Gallery, and one at the Royal Academy of Arts. Taking those exhibitions as a starting point, in this episode Dean discusses her working methods, her approach to her subjects, and the importance of language for artists and filmmakers.
Jackson Pollock’s Mural (1943) is a monumental eight-by-twenty foot work that marks a turning point in the artist’s career and in the course of American art. In 2012, Mural traveled to the Getty for conservation, cleaning, and study, which revealed groundbreaking information about the work and its creator. In the first half of a two-part conversation, Laura Rivers and Yvonne Szafran, conservators at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Alan Phenix and Tom Learner, scientists at the Getty Conservation Institute, and Andrew Perchuk, deputy director at the Getty Research Institute, tell the story of this important work.
During the month of January, we are rereleasing some of our most popular episodes of Art + Ideas. This episode was originally released in August 2017.
Between 1910 and 1915, Russian painters and poets invented an experimental language called zaum, which emphasizes sound and is characterized by indeterminacy in meaning. These artists used zaum to create handmade artists’ books that are meant to be read, seen, and heard. Nancy Perloff, author of Explodity: Sound, Image, and Word in Russian Futurist Book Art, takes us to the archives at the Getty Research Institute to examine two fascinating zaum futurist books and to discuss a number of the visual and literary artists of this period.
During the month of January, we are rereleasing some of our most popular episodes of Art + Ideas. This episode was originally released in April 2017.