Why I Love the Getty Museum

A visit to the Getty Center (not to be confused with the Getty Villa) is usually the first thing I do when I visit Los Angeles. I guess you could say, I’m a regular. As as self confessed beauty addict and an aspiring photographer, the Getty fills my need for creative and spiritual inspiration on so many levels.

For most of us, when we think of an art museum, what comes to mind is (naturally) art. The Getty Museum is home to a world-class, permanent, art collection. However, the Getty isn’t just a home for priceless works of art. The Getty IS a work of art.

There’s a feeling of space and light there that reminds me of Rome – visually worlds apart, but the feeling is the same.

Built on the top of a mountain, you have unobstructed views of Los Angeles in all directions. Everywhere you look there are white stone and glass and water, and angles, and curves, and gardens, and light. It’s the kind of place that invites contemplation and communion with nature, but in a completely joyful way.

My favorite thing to do at the Getty is take in the current photo exhibition, then to go outside with my camera and try out the ideas and concepts I just saw in the galleries. My second favorite thing to do is to hang out with a cappuccino and people watch.

I was lucky to have the chance to be there just last week. This time of year the sun is very low, very close to the earth – and the late afternoon light is amazing. I saw a great photo exhibition of images by Ray K. Metzger and his contemporaries, then went outside to play in the light. I decided not to worry too much about who or what was in my field of vision, but just to try to capture the warm, late autumn, California sun. There was also plenty of fall color. Against the various textures of white stone, the colors appeared even more vibrant.

I want to share what architect Richard Meier, says about the color white, and why he chose it as the color for the Getty (and uses it in every building he designs.)

“White is the most wonderful of colors because you can see within it, all the colors of the rainbow. The whiteness of white is never just white. it is almost always transformed by light.

“In architectural terms, white is color that most easily allows the fundamentals of building, space,volume and material to be expressed in the most direct and clear way. With the use of white the differentiation between solids and voids are most clearly articulated. The whiteness allows one to see the difference between transparent, translucent and opaque surfaces more easily. White enhances ones perception of the basic architectural elements.”

I spent my teenage years in the San Fernando Valley, and earlier this year I wrote about it in
Why I Love California. The Getty has now been consciously added to my list of reasons to love California and, Richard Meier, to my list of heros. If I could, I’d live at the Getty – when I wasn’t in Rome, of course.

This photo essay is a selection from over one hundred photographs I took in about one and half hours at the Getty Museum.

Please feel free to comment. Have you been to the Getty? What do you like about it?

Who’s your favorite photographer? Who’s your favorite architect? What inspires you?

Read more about past, present and future exhibitions on the Getty website:

All materials copyright Penny Sadler 2012