After three years of work, the Getty Villa prepares to reopen with a new look and Koons Play-Doh
Getty director Timothy Potts gave the Museum of Ancient Art of the Center a much needed facelift.
“Go to Pompeii and Herculaneum and see Roman villas as they are now – then go to Malibu and see how they were in ancient times.”
That is what J. Paul Getty told the Los Angeles Times in 1974 when asked why he chose to model the design of the Getty Villa on an ancient Roman villa buried in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79.
On April 18, the villa – a sister museum to the Getty Center that houses its Greek and Roman collection and was opened to the public for the first time in 1974 – will be reopened after a year of renovation and reinstallation aimed at the history of ancient times. to better understand art. The new display reflects more than three years of work and research.
For most of its existence, the Getty Villa collection was thematically arranged. Artworks were sorted into categories according to their subject – athletes and competition, gods and heroes, the Trojan War – regardless of the period, artistic movement or geographical region from which they came.
The villa with a new look also offers an extensive geographical range. A new gallery shows material from neighboring ancient cultures for the first time, such as Egypt and Persia. And one of the inauguration exhibitions, “Palmyra: Loss and Remembrance,” brings together some of the finest examples of funerary portraits from the ancient city of Palmyra outside of Syria. The show aims to illustrate how the old trade center produced art that united Persian and Roman styles./ Art-Works & History
In addition to the reinstallation, the two-storey museum also underwent minor renovations, from the addition of new lighting to fresh paint layers. There is also more than 300 square meters of more exhibition space spread over 33 galleries. (The villa remained open during the reinstallation process, although several galleries were closed intermittently for work.)
Potts says that he felt no pressure to make the museum flash or better digestible for an Instagram-obsessed audience. But one of the inaugural shows of the Getty Villa can get started anyway. “Plato in LA: Contemporary Artists’ Visions, a rare opportunity to see new art in the villa, brings together works by artists inspired by the Greek philosopher, including Mike Kelley, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Paul McCarthy.
The most painfully connected – but also most anticipated – work in the show is Jeff Koons’ monumental ‘Play Doh’ sculpture, which the curators have brutally described as the platonic ideal of the lime-like substance.
Even without the inevitable impulse of Koons, however, the villa does surprisingly well in terms of presence. It accounts for a healthy 25 percent of Getty’s annual visitor numbers, which is approximately two million. The director expects this number to remain approximately the same, if not slightly, after the gallery has been completely reopened to the public. Admission, as always, remains free.