Herb Ritts and Gustav Klimt prove blockbusters for Getty

October 09, 2012|By Jori Finkel
  • "Greg Louganis," Hollywood, 1987, by Herb Ritts.
"Greg Louganis," Hollywood, 1987, by Herb Ritts. (The J. Paul Getty Museum )

They don't have a lot in common other than nudity, but two Getty Center exhibitions this summer, "Herb Ritts: L.A. Style" and "Gustav Klimt: The Magic of Line," drew some of the biggest crowds the museum has ever seen.

Getty photography curator Paul Martineau organized the Ritts show to highlight a trove of material recently acquired by the museum, including fashion photography and nudes.

The show, which shared a gallery with "Portraits of Renown," drew 364,656 people during its run from April 3 to Sept. 2, or an average of 2,763 visitors daily. (A traveling exhibition, it just moved to the Cincinnati Art Museum, where it runs through Dec. 30 before going to Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Fla., in early 2013.)

The Klimt exhibition, which ran from July 3 to Sept. 23, brought 196,466 visitors, or an average of 2,729 daily. Borrowing material from the Albertina Museum in Vienna, the loan show contained more than 100 drawings, including some of the artist's famously sinuous nudes. The show also featured a reproduction, nearly full scale, of the monumental Beethoven Frieze that Klimt painted for the Vienna Secession building in 1902.

Jim Cuno, Getty president and CEO, said overall museum attendance this summer was "very strong" as well.

"In Herb Ritts and Gustav Klimt, we had two popular exhibitions at the Getty Center, where we also extended our Friday night hours, and tourism to the region was at record levels," he noted.

The only shows in Getty Center history to bring in more visitors on average per day were Old Masters exhibitions: "Leonardo da Vinci and the Art of Sculpture" (3,400) in 2010 and "Rembrandt's Late Religious Portraits" (2,935) in 2005.


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