Horizon at Sandy Point

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Light and space: the architect's art

View of Los Angeles from the Getty Center (Photo Anjani Ganase)
The Getty Center sits atop its ridge above Los Angeles. It gleams like a new acropolis in the clear California light. Outside and internal spaces are bathed in this light. Walls are tall and cool, complemented by tree plantings that provide shaded passageways and courtyards. The site and its  buildings features the drama of light and shadow, and ought to be experienced even before one considers the art housed there.

Tree-lined walkway (ag)

Water feature - devoid of water since the drought (ag)

The Bishop (ag)

Sculptures at the Getty (ag)
You park in a cave in the hillside. Board the cable train - called a funicular - which climbs the steep grade by counterbalancing the ascending and descending cars. You arrive at the cool sunny end of the line and follow the crowd across a wide courtyard with views that stop you in your tracks. At the circular center, you choose your direction, join a guided group or simply catch your breath awed by the space, the buildings, this temple to spatial arts - drawing, painting, sculpture and architecture.

Architect Richard Meier was selected to design the center in 1984. It straddles two adjacent natural ridges which are at an angle of 22.5 degrees to each other. The location is central to the layout of the buildings which include the museum, research institute and administrative offices, and gardens. The center was opened in December 1997 after expenditure had more than tripled its initial estimate of $350 million. It is funded by the J Paul Getty Trust which was established by Jean Paul Getty in 1953. The son of petroleum businessman George Getty, J Paul made his first million with his own company in Tulsa Oklahoma, by the time he was 24 . His net worth was $2 billion at the time of his death in June 1976.

Built of concrete and steel, the Center's ivory limestone facades were created with some 1,200,000 square feet (110,000 square metres) of travertine, a limestone formed in geothermally heated supersaturated alkaline water. The best sources of travertine in the USA are Yellowstone National Park, parts of Oklahoma, Colorado and Arizona. However, the travertine used for the Getty Center came from Tivoli and Guidonia in Italy. Older buildings using travertine include the Colosseum in Rome and Sacre-Coeur Basilica in Paris.

This first visit to the Getty Center included just a cursory glance at some collections of European drawings and paintings. As you can see, we were awed by the structures and content to simply walk in its spaces.  

In these photos by Anjani Ganase (ag) and Pat Ganase (pg), the Getty Center impressed us in different ways - we hope you enjoy these perspectives.

Appreciating the art of another era

Angel of the Citadel

Rail for the cable train

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