Friday, June 4, 2010

Art, inspiration, and a $20.00 fish...

That's right, kids. Polar Bear and her Mama went to the Getty and stretched our museum legs. For those of you who have never been to the Getty, it's a super ginormous art center in NW Los Angeles. It was founded and paid for by J. Paul Getty, founder of Getty Oil. Hmmmmm....environmentally evil industry pays for culturally beneficial institution? Have I heard this plot somewhere else before?? Anyway, the Getty Center is one of LA's cultural gems. Located atop tree-and-shrubbed hillside, the Getty Center is one of LA's first green buildings, and can only be reached by tram. That's right - I said tram. Not just any tram - a super space-aged white pod-like tram that slowly and efficiently climbs and winds its way around the hillside. I'm fairly certain the tram is run on solar power, or some such business.

The Getty Oil fortune besides, it's a pretty cool place - lots of greenery, lots of art, lots of views. In fact, if the camera could pan to the right (though it can't because it's not my photo), you'd see Santa Monica and the Pacific Ocean. That clump of buildings you see in the background is the Wilshire District & Miracle Mile. (Lots of designing shopping there, Fee!) And as you can probably discern from the photo, the Getty is an outdoor campus, so each of those buildings hold different exhibits. In no order whatsoever, we saw:

The Old Testament in Medieval Manuscript Illumination
A Record of Emotion: The photography of Frederick H. Evans
Charles Le Brun and monumental prints in the age of Louis XIV
In Focus: Tasteful Pictures
Foundry to Finish: The Making of Bronze Sculpture
The New Gallery for Medieval and Renaissance Sculpture and Decorative Art
Urban Panoramas: Los Angeles, New York, Reykjavik (Opie, Liao, Kim)

and last ... but CERTAINLY not least ...

Leonardo DaVinci and the art of Sculpture: Inspiration and Invention

So here's something you may not know about me: Leonardo DaVinci is my favorite. Ever. You want to talk about a kooky, crazy, hilarious, brilliant, ahead-of-his time cat? Leo is the zenith. Leonardo DaVinci is not known for his sculpture - in fact, he didn't create many at all. But, as the exhibit proved, he sure did inspire a lot of *other* folks' sculptures, namely, Giovani Rustici.

                              (St. John the Baptist preaching to Pharisee and Levite by Rustici)

The exhibit also shows a beautiful sculpture by one of Leo's idols, Donatello (that's half of a mutant turtle clan right there!). Leo's work in the exhibit were sketches - hand-drawn sketches, most of which came from the private collection on Queen Elizabeth II.....

Did you raise your eyebrow, too? This is the scene that immediately played out in my mind [the role of the British General apparently played by James Cagney, and the Nazi officer is probably Max Von Sydow]:

British General: "Alright, you Nazi, hand over those valuable pieces of artwork! Or you get what your man Hitler got, got it?!"
Nazi SS Officer: "Art Vork? Vhat art vork?? Zees is Germany, not the Louvre!"
British General, butting his gun in the Nazi's gut: "Can it, you Aryan slug. Give me the DaVinci's NOW, or I fill you with repellent, see?"
Nazi SS Officer: "Alright, alright! Zay are en my pants!"
British General, plunging his hand down the Nazi's trousers: "I claim these in the name of Queen Elizabeth II, who isn't Queen yet, but loves DaVinci nonetheless! Yeah, see."
Indiana Jones, slamming his way into the bunker: "THOSE BELONG IN A MUSEUM!"

I mean, I don't know! How the hell do YOU think DaVinci's sketches came to be in the ownership of Queen Elizabeth II?? There must have been 20-30; this was no pittance of a collection.

So why is Leo my favorite? Is it because we share a birthday? Partly. Is it because he cut open human cadavers in order to better understand the human form, while achieving condemnation from the Catholic church? Partly. Is it because he made fun of Michelangelo's David by re-sketching him, and then drawing Poseidon's sea-horses coming from the base of the drawing? Definitely. But the number one reason he's my favorite, lies in his sketches..................................of horses:

They actually had this sketch at the exhibit. You know ... along with many others. What I found fascinating about his sketches (besides the obvious), was that on one side of paper, he'd have "doodles" of a baby angel, an old man's profile with curly hair, and then a little bi-plane invention drawing right next to them, amidst clouds of his infamous "mirror" handwriting. Then, on the reverse side, he'd have a horse, a baby holding a goat, and then plans for a backwards blowing water fountain.

I wasn't kidding about the goat-holding baby. Anyway, I won't go through exhibition by exhibition. I'll just post some highlights:

Charles Le Brun = awesome. I don't know how a man could do that much scoring! (Bwuahahahahaha!)

Medieval Old Testament Illuminations = mediocre. I always find them interesting, but you can see older manuscripts (in greater number) in Europe...

Photography of Frederick H. Evans = great, if you like photos of cathedrals - seriously, Ely Cathedral, Cadbury Cathedral, Winchester Cathedral, Westminster Abbey ... the man was church crazy.

Tasteful Pictures = weird ... reminded me of you, Gypsy and Shell! (I nicknamed this one Psychotropic Chicken!)

Urban Panoramas = interesting, yet obscure locations in all 3 cities. I particularly like Soo Kim's of Reykjavik (below). Awesome exacto-knife action (which also made me think of you, Shell!).

Lastly, the Center's standing collection is small, yet impressive. It boasts a lovely array of European impressionists: Cezanne, a Van Gogh, Renoir, Manet, Monet, GauginGogh'spre-Parrish painting called "Spring" by Lawrence Alma-Tadema that grabbed my attention.

But none of these gripped me the way this one did:

Belgian painter James Ensor, 1888. Entitled: Christ's Entry into Brussels.

Unfortunately, this photo doesn't do the piece justice. AT. ALL. So I won't attempt to put into words what this painting did to me. I will say that the absurdism delights, haunts, and intrigues me to no end. Some day I want to do a piece of theatre based on this painting. And to me, that's what great art does - it inspires other great art.

PS - I forgot to explain the $20.00 fish. So because I'm at the Getty with my mom, and it's a belated Mother's Day, we go to eat at the Getty's restaurant, which, as you might imagine, is pretty swanky. And we both ordered a Steelhead Trout-Salmon fillet, over asparagus and a citrus vinaigrette, with "pee-wee" potatoes (it STILL makes me giggle). It was heavenly. It was light, fresh, a perfect summer meal ... for, you guessed it.....$20.00. Was it worth it? Yes. But it did leave me with the quandary ....

What the hell is Steelhead Trout-Salmon?


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