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Posts Tagged ‘Painting’

While I usually get mild to severe anxiety attacks when the name Getty is mentioned these days, it is important to point out that there is a whole other Getty that also has nice images but isn’t trying to sell them for a buck fifty. I’m talking about the Getty Museum in the fair city of Los Angeles.

The Getty Center was made possible by the incredible riches accumulated by this guy:

J. Paul Getty (painted by Gerald L. Brockhurst).

J. Paul figured out a way to sell a gallon of gas for roughly three times the price of a well produced stock image and found himself almost immediately in a fancy villa in Malibu, from which he collected an amazing amount of sweet, sweet artwork. (That’s the short version of the Getty success story).

In any case, the Misses and I went on a little CA road trip recently and one of the stops was LA. I wanted to see the Getty for quite a while now and we made a bee line for it the first chance we got. It sits on a great hilltop overlooking the metropolis that has more smog than a German bar in 1985. The buildings are marvelous designs by Richard Meyer and, together with the campus, the gardens, the sculptures and the view, form a near perfect setting to view art.

There were so many great paintings that I’ve decided to focus on the portraits for this here blog post and so now, without any further ado, some personal favorites from the other Getty:

Isabella of Portugal, Workshop of Rogier van der Weyden Flemish, Flanders, about 1450, later additions about 1500

Portrait Study, Théodore Géricault, French, about 1818 - 1819

St. Bartholomew, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn Dutch, 1661

Portrait of a Bearded Man, Jacopo Bassano, Italian, about 1550

Portrait of Barbara Kressin, Unknown, Netherlandish, 1544

An Old Man in Military Costume, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Dutch, about 1630 - 1631

Pope Clement VII, Sebastiano del Piombo, Italian, about 1531

Portrait of Alfonso d'Avalos, Marquis of Vasto, in Armor with a Page, Titian, Italian, Bologna, probably January-February 1533

Head of a Woman, Michael Sweerts, Flemish, about 1654

Portrait of the Marquesa de Santiago, Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, Spanish, 1804

Portrait of Anthony Valabrègue, Paul Cézanne, French, about 1869 - 1871

Euclid, Jusepe de Ribera, Spanish, Naples, Italy, about 1630 - 1635

Four Studies of a Male Head, Workshop of Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish, about 1617 - 1620

Self-Portrait, Yawning, Joseph Ducreux, French, before 1783

J. Paul Getty Museum
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90049-1687

Phone: +1 (310) 440-7330
Fax: +1 (310) 440-7751
E-mail: (for general Museum inquiries) gettymuseum@getty.edu

http://www.getty.edu

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The passing of Lucian Freud last week startled me out of my 6 week long blog nap. When I first saw Freud’s work at the Met’s retrospective in 1994 I was blown away, and I’ve stayed blown away ever since. His portraits and depictions of the human body are just unbelievably brilliant and inspiring. Here are some of his master pieces and some good words of wisdom for the common portraitist.

“I think of truthfulness as revealing and intrusive, rather than rhyming and soothing.”

“You are very conscious of the air going round people in different ways, to do with their particular vitality.”

“I’m really interested in people as animals. Part of liking to work from the naked is for that reason.”

“I work from the people that interest me and that I care about, in rooms that I live in and know.”

“Art has always to do with sensuality and selfishness.”

By the way, the first image of this post, the back view of Freud’s frequent model Leigh Bowery can be seen in the Metropolitan Museum and is well worth a visit.

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From the Visual Research Dept.: Frank Webster and I used to live in the same Brooklyn neighborhood  for a while, and I would recognize particular buildings, and typical vistas, mundane or trashy, that every New Yorker is familiar with, in his large paintings.   But where I would be slightly annoyed by an overgrown condo high rise going up in real life, baffled yet accustomed to sneakers hanging from overhead wires, and just plain pissed at plastic bags in trees,  I would be stunned by the melancholic beauty of Frank’s version of these things.

When it comes to making the ordinary interesting in art, many (and I mean MANY) have tried and many (MANY) have failed , but Frank Webster is the rare artist that can actually pull it off.


Frank Webster’s website

All images in this post © Frank Webster

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We finally ended our road trip through Turkey in Istanbul where I found the name for this project.

At the Topkapi Palace is an impressive portrait gallery of the original Sultans, the Ottoman rulers of yore, and there was just no denying the resemblances of faces and postures between the subjects of the old paintings and the men we had just photographed.

Like most people who are groovy with Democracy, I’m not big on the concept of royalty, as a matter of fact it creeps me out quite a bit.   However, many of the common men we photographed had a quiet dignity that came across as noble.  The more I thought about it the more I had fun envisioning the new Sultans as working farmers, shepherds and fisherman instead of inheritors of power and wealth.


These paintings were often done by Italian artists like Bellini whose portrait of Sultan Mehmet II is at the top of this page.
As we were walking through Istanbul’s great bazaar in the following days we found simple hand drawn copies of these portraits on pages cut out of old books. We bought one of  Mehmet II, a ruler famous for conquering Constantinople, an event that eventually marked the divide between the middle ages and (more) modern times.

Another portrait we purchased was of AbdulHamid II, who was one of the later Sultans.  He was not exactly known for his skillful governing, but rather for escaping dozens of attempts on his life. He was also such a cruel, murderous ruler that he earned himself the nick name “The Red Sultan”. But who can stay mad at a guy wearing a fez. I know I can’t.

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From the Visual Research Dept.: Right now (through August 30th) the Neue Galerie in New York is showing the work of Otto Dix. His portrait of Laryngologist Dr. Mayer-Hermann from 1926 is a favorite of mine and always reminds me of August Sander’s image of the baker, another masterpiece of that era.

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