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Heavy-metal Getty

THE SMALL PRINT

June 17, 2007|Lynne Heffley

WITH the donation of 28 modern sculptures to the J. Paul Getty Museum from the collection of the late film producer Ray Stark and his wife, Fran, works by contemporary artists have sprung up al fresco all over the Getty Center -- on the plaza, the stairs, in gardens and other spots throughout the institution's hilltop Los Angeles campus.

The official public unveiling of the entire collection, acquired by the Getty Trust in 2005, is Tuesday, but before you get up close to Aristide Maillol's larger-than-life female nude, "Air," you might want to read the label. The graceful figure, resting lightly on the steps leading to the museum, seems scarcely earthbound, but the text on her accompanying bronze plaque lands with a thud. Besides informing visitors that Maillol's personification of "Air" was created in 1938, then cast in lead (paradoxically and posthumously) in 1962, it warns: "Lead is a metal known by the State of California to cause reproductive harm." (California Proposition 65 requires a warning whenever exposure to a listed chemical can "foreseeably occur as a result of contact." However, the Getty says, a wax coating shielding the sculpture from oxidation provides protection against accidental contact.)

The rest of the collection is lead-free; most of the sculptures are bronze. Among other pieces in the Stark collection are Barbara Hepworth's "Figure for Landscaping," Alexander Calder's "The Jousters," Roy Lichtenstein's "Three Brushstrokes," Joan Miro's "Personnage," Rene Magritte's "Delusions of Grandeur" and Giacomo Manzu's "Seated Cardinal."

Open-air gallery rooms in the Fran and Ray Stark Sculpture Garden at the tram departure area will feature British works by Henry Moore, Elisabeth Frink and William Turnbull. The newly named Fran and Ray Stark Sculpture Terrace, adjacent to the museum's West Pavilion, offers a theme: figurative sculpture's move from representation to abstraction, the Getty says. It notes that the sculptures have been integrated into the site in consultation with the Getty Center's original architects, Richard Meier and Partners; and original landscape designers, Olin Partnership.

-- Lynne Heffley

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