February 24th, 2018

Architecture at the J. Paul Getty Museum

Written by Ronald Ray Rogers, Gallery MAR artist

It is said that “Art Enriches Life” and whether a casual or ardent collector, having the energy of original art in your environment has the ability to create a more warm, welcoming and peaceful place.

As a studio artist with a Master of Fine Art, I also teach drawing and painting classes for older adults through Allen Hancock College in northern Santa Barbara County. Throughout my years as an artist I have been fortunate to visit many major and minor art museums along parts of the eastern seaboard, the western United States, and in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Ocean Views at the Getty

Visiting art museums, for me, is an important part of the creative and learning process; it allows the artist to connect with wonderful art through the ages, and become better artists. It is standing in front of a magnificent painting or sculpture and experiencing the creating artist personally and viewing their work up close and real.

Wanting this for my students, I have worked with the college to put together tours that are made available to the community. Being in reasonable proximity to Los Angels (about 170 miles northwest) it allows us to tap into their wealth of art. We previously visited the Los Angeles County Art Museum. It has one of the largest collection of art in the United States. This February’s tour was to the Getty Center, a magnificent private museum consisting of a beautiful architecturally designed complex with 5 exhibit pavilions and several research and support buildings.

The complex sits on a hilltop in the Santa Monica Mountains and in one direction overlooks the western part of the Los Angeles basin, and in the other direction the Pacific Ocean. The Center exhibits art from their collection that ranges from the renaissance through the early 20th century, and has visiting exhibitions from other museums and collections.

“Irises” by Van Gogh

Some of the fine art they boast are pieces by Rembrandt, and Van Gogh’s Irises. The photos shown here are from the tour that just I led to the Getty. We had about 50 artists and art lovers on our tour coach, and I gave guided information for some of the participants — showing the use of value, composition, structure and content in the paintings along with information about the artists, and the history of the various periods in which the art was created.

Michelangelo’s Drawing

Most every time I have visited art museums, I come away particularly moved by one or more of the artworks I indulged, and this visit was no exception. At the Getty, it was a brilliant drawing of a woman with a veil by Michelangelo, and “The Milliners” painting by Edgar Degas. Michelangelo’s drawing showed the artist’s love for drawing through the deliberate mark making that developed the deep folds and movements in the drapery of the woman’s gowns.

E. Degas’s “The Milliners”

With the Degas painting, I felt a deep connection that I initially was unsure of. The more I observed it, the more I saw, understood and appreciated not only the artist visual comprehension, but his literary story telling. In my teaching of both drawing and painting I stress the importance of visual comprehension, and one of the explanations that I show the student is how we see and focus. Our focus is a sort of mono-focus where we only see a small area in full focus at a time, and the rest of our vision is a bit blurred and abstract. Here in his magnificently composed painting, Degas shows his focal point on the woman who is painted in clarity, while the rest of the piece was painted in various degrees of abstraction.

A Parting Gift

I am always amazed and inspired as I experience how artists see and communicate their view in their work both in vision and story telling, and this tour to the Getty did not disappoint.