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.)