The Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90049-1687Richard Meier & Partners. Also: Robert
Irwin, central garden; Emmet L. Wemple & Assoc. and the Olin Partnership, landscaping;
Thierry W. Despont, interior gallery design.
The Getty Center comprises the Getty Conservation
Institute, the Getty Education Institute for the Arts, the Getty Grant Program, the Getty
Information Institute, the J. Paul Getty Trust, the Getty Research Institute for the
History of Art and the Humanities, the J. Paul Getty Museum, an auditorium, central
garden, and several cafes and restaurants.
Richard Meier is perhaps the best elocutor of
his work; in Andreas Papadakis and James Steele, Architecture of Today (Paris: Terrail,
1991) he is quoted as saying:
is the subject of my architecture...What I seek to do is pursue the plastic limits of
modern architecture to include a notion of beauty moulded by light. My wish is to create a
kind of spatial lyricism within the canon of pure form. In the design of my buildings, I
am expanding and elaborating on what I consider to be the formal base of the Modern
Movement...The great promise and richness of some of the formal tenets of Modernism have
almost unlimited areas for investigation...I work with volume and surface, I manipulate
forms in light, changes in scale and view, movement and stasis.'
I have started
three or four essays on the Getty center, which usually devolve into general ruminations
about Los Angeles, and finally dribble into musings about what exactly the ubiquitous and
affecting Calvin Klein billboards are capturing - perhaps the brittle, viscous,
luminescent chrysalis from child to adult - a visual capture that has a particular
assertiveness in a city that is always in the act of becoming, of promising
LAs aura of imagination and transformation
has deeply impacted its architecture, and thus it is all the more surprising, and somehow
effective, to have the Getty stand as a conservative monolith on a hill; an extraordinary
feat of civil engineering, stone carving, and exquisite interior lighting that, despite
the fluidity of garden and water elements, is deeply and heavily anchored in Los Angeles.
It is as though Richard Meier were granted one
last chance to keep aesthetic Western civilization from slipping away--from sliding down
the western mountains and into the chaotic digital sea of the 21st century Pacific. In a
city that is 52% Hispanic and Asian stands an extraordinarily lovely epic poem to Western
achievement. It is this unlikely mix of cultures that gives Los Angeles, and the Getty
Center, a volatile and dream-like beauty.
Christy Rogers, 1998 (updated 2010)
Click each picture to enlarge it.
How to visit
Comprehensive information about
getting to the Getty by car, bus, taxi etc. is on the Gettty's official
web site at www.getty.edu/visit/.
Advance reservations are required for parking at some times, so please
check this site in advance.
No need to bring lunch, there are many lovely
and varied places to dine (or snack) at the Getty. Youll be so open-mouthed at the
architecture and landscape architecture of the site that you might, as I did, almost
forget to go in the museum. Dont! Meier lit the collection with natural
sunlight--the condition in which much of the work was created--and the paintings
Books and other web
Click the book title to view and to order direct