for the love of nike

Inside The Getty Museum and Some Odd Representations of Women in Art

The Getty is a breathtaking museum in Brentwood, perched atop the Santa Monica Mountains with an unreal view of LA below. It opened to the public in 1997, and is free to visit (unless you park on site, which will cost you $20). A rather impressive people-mover takes you from the parking garage, up the hillside to main buildings and gardens. All I could think about as I walked around this slice of paradise, was sheer wealth that must have built the joint in the first place.

If you’ve been following my adventures over the last few years, you know I’m all about the art. But I would have made a trip to The Getty just to see the perfectly manicured expanse. Sculptures are scattered throughout, couples sit on the grassy hillsides sharing bottles of wine, and tourists stand along the perimeters–gazing at the mansions you can see on surrounding hilltops. To be honest, it felt quite European and relaxed. I rather enjoyed the quick hour I spent there.  The Getty Museum, Los Angeles / for the love of nike

The Getty Museum, Los Angeles / for the love of nike

The Getty Museum, Los Angeles / for the love of nikeAs I quickly surveyed the art The Getty had to offer, I kept noticing the strange representations of women. (Not to be confused with representations of female artists, I’m afraid. *see info about Guerrilla Girls) When I learned about the Bechdel Test some years ago, it revolutionized the way I saw women portrayed in the arts from that moment forward. The test itself is rather easy: do at least two women–hopefully with names–talk about something other than a man? Sadly, quite a pathetic percentage of contemporary pieces pass.

Tell me, what do you see in the following artworks that stick out to you? What do you like or dislike?

The Getty Museum, Los Angeles / for the love of nike

I am all about Surrealism and a good headless statue (here’s lookin’ at you, Winged Victory of Samothrace–even though you originally had a head), but I’d love to hear your thoughts on this Russian Doll Torso by René Magritte in Delusions of Grandeur (1967).

The Getty Museum, Los Angeles / for the love of nike

Spring in the Alps by Giovanni Segantini (1897): This one is my favorite. Get that woman in some Carhartts! Read more about the piece here.

The Getty Museum, Los Angeles / for the love of nike

Visitation by Pontormo (1520): I wonder if this painting would pass the Bechdel Test. Probably not, I’m guessing they’re talking about Jesus.

The Getty Museum, Los Angeles / for the love of nike

and the most shocking for last: The Eternal Feminine by Paul Cézanne (1877)

The description on the plaque beside this piece is enough to give you the creeps. Here’s a direct quote: “Staring with eyeless sockets, this domineering woman–the Eternal Feminine–calmly holds court over a crowd of men fighting for her attention. None of the men represented here–musicians, wrestlers, a bishop, even the artist himself–can resist her temptation. Urgently hashed brushstrokes and strong pictorial diagonals repeatedly lead the eye back to the central figure.”

Say what now?! Told you it’d give you the creeps.


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