Some Work

Roman head sculpture from 300 AD at the Getty Villa in Los Angeles

We visit the Getty Center almost every time we’re out here but this trip we decided to check out the Getty Villa, a recreation of a Roman house, a really palatial spread for a very wealthy Roman, someone who was as wealthy during the Roman Empire as J. Paul Getty was in his day. Getty built this place for his third or fourth wife. She’s still alive but living downtown. Getty filled the Villa with art and in the seventies moved the Van Gogh and Rembrandts to the new Getty Center while leaving the Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities in the Villa.

We took an audio tour, something we usually avoid in museums preferring to follow our eyes. Our guide was a retired high school principle and brought a lot to the experience even telling us how we were dressed – togas and sandals – as we entered the dining quarters.

I love these early idealized sculptures of the human form. The one above is from 300 AD. They have an abstract fertility statue here from 3,000 BC that looks like something Modigliani would have done. Some of of the statues were repaired in antiquity and the Getty has a restoration department that has reworked some of these pieces. A placard called attention to the nose and chin of a woman’s head from 10 AD that had been rebuilt by the staff. The work looked seamless but there is something off about contributing to an artwork completed a few millennium ago. A diagram of their statue of Hercules pointed to all the work the staff had done on him. I couldn’t help but notice they didn’t reconstruct his penis.

Repared Roman sculpture of Hercules at the Getty Villa in Los Angeles

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