I’ve been on holiday recently, not anyway classical or even European, but in Los Angeles. I actually quite like L.A., I wish my already-an-academic wife could move jobs to either UCLA (but they’re cash-strapped) or USC (and they’re a highly fancy private college); I think she’d enjoy it too. Enough of that.
In the meantime we went to the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades (on the way to Malibu, but not actually in Malibu, as its actually in the city of Los Angeles), in a magnificent setting overlooking the ocean. This has been my second visit there, I went the last time we were in L.A., but this time I managed to be able to cast a much-better-educated eye over the various artefacts. Tomorrow night, i.e Thursday, I am going to see a production of Euripides’ Helen at the Villa.
There are of course two Getty museums: one, the Getty Center, houses modern works of art (which apparently the oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, with him famously conservative tastes, would have found repulsive); the other, the Getty Villa, houses his collection of antiquities. The Villa itself seems to me to be a 20th century version of the folly; a replica Roman villa built by Getty to house his art. It’s ostensibly based on the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum. On his death in 1976, the museum organisation (being the summation of both locations) inherited over $600 million. Thanks to this beneficence, entry to the museum is free, but limited in quantity (parking is $15 though, and, in typical Angelino fashion, driving is the only practical way to get to the museum).
The collection housed in the museum is pretty impressive, despite previously documented problems with the provenance of some of the acquired items in it. However, except for the Pompeii exhibition that was running in part of the Villa, photography is generally allowed in the museum, as long as you don’t use a flash, or exploit the photos commercially. So here’s some of my favorite photos of objects from the museum. If you’ve got the time, you see the complete set of photos that I took in this flickr set, or they could be visible on my tumblr.
Below is a selection of the most interesting objects or photographs. Clicking on the picture below will take you to the larger version on Flickr with more information about the object. Because of the Getty Villa restrictions, I must insist that the rights on these photos are all rights reserved; in other words they are not free for you to copy or to use in any way except in strictly educational contexts such as lecture slides.
This one we found the most interesting; it’s a child playing with a theatre mask. The child has its hand stuck through the mouth of the mask, which makes it most monstrous.
These are muses. [L] Polyhymnia, the muse of mime. [R] Clio, the muse of history.
[L] the Landsdowne Hercules. [R] Satyr pouring wine.
Monuments of children are very poignant. This one is the funeral monument of Apollonia, daughter of Aristandos and Thebegeneia.
A Cypriot ‘fertility goddess’ from 2500 BC
Two famous Roman imperial crazies: [L] Caligula. [R] Commodus.
Images of power: [L] Augustus. [R] The torso of a first century AD Roman general in parade armour.
Anyway there are a lot more photos of artefacts in the Flickr set, including some exquisite glass work, if you care to explore it.