The Getty Center is a sprawling campus that is enjoyable to visit. While the architecture of the campus is stunning, there’s more to explore. The buildings house permanent collections of master works and also feature changing exhibits. And the Central Garden is itself a work of art. Let’s take a look at a few of the treasures inside. Collections live in 4 Pavilions — North, South, East, and West.
The Works of Art
J. Paul Getty collected more than 400 works of art, including European paintings. Since his death in 1976, the museum has continued to acquire art. The most well known painting belonging to the Getty Center is Vincent Van Gogh’s Irises.You are able to stand so close you can see the brush strokes.
My personal favorite is this charming portrait of a 7-year-old Dutch Baroness painted in 1755 by Jean-Etienne Liotard. And there’s a wistful portrait of a young girl by Belgian painter Fernand Knopff, who places the child against an adult-sized door 0n a tilted floor to show her vulnerability.
When I walk into a room with original art, especially of the impressionists, I’m moved to be present there. The Getty Center offers a fine collection of this period. One of Claude Monet’s series of wheatstacks from 1890 is here.
I learned that, when an exhibit is being planned, the colors of the walls are chosen to best show the art for that particular room. So you will see different colors of walls as you move through the galleries. The skylights above many of the rooms also allows natural light to fall on the paintings.
A Cactus Garden
The Central Garden
On to the Central Garden! This is a work of living art designed by Robert Irwin, an artist who knew nothing about plants. He researched and worked with others to learn what to plant. Irwin had the instincts of an artist, which is what mattered. The result is an ever-changing formal gardens that show off what happens when you combine color, light, and reflection. The centerpiece is a pool with a curving design of greenery. Bursts of color come from the bougainvillea “trees” that are formed using custom-made trellises.Circular paths are lined with an extravagant variety of blooming plants. More than 500 varieties of plants live in the Central Gardens.
One More Surprising Exhibition
I was reluctant to leave the Getty Center, so on my way out, I went back in the main entry and decided to see the orientation film. While I chatted with the docent in line, I learned that the West Pavilion is showing original Leonardo da Vinci art. What? I totally missed that. So after the short film, I went back to the art gallery. The exhibition is in one small room, with just a few drawings of the great artist. But my return to the gallery was well worth it because here is one of the drawings. It’s from 1503 and is in black chalk, pen and brown ink. The title is Studies of the Christ Child with a Lamb. Here is art from da Vinci that is 500 years old, and you stand right in front of this treasure! Whether you are gazing at the art of the masters or winding through gardens of living, blooming art, you will find something at the Getty Center that speaks to your soul.
How about you? Have you visited a garden or art gallery that moved you with its beauty?
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