Friday, May 18, 2007

An Afternoon at the Villa

Yesterday was spent at the villa—The Getty Villa in Malibu, that is. My friend Joan and I passed the time on a lovely afternoon browsing through J. Paul Getty's collection of Greek and Roman antiquities which are housed in a re-created first century Roman country house, the Villa dei Papiri, just off Pacific Coast Highway. I had been there before, but many years ago, and had not revisited the museum since it had been closed for renovations in 1997.

On display in the museum are lots of statues, vessels and vases, plates and bowls, jewelry and coins, dating from 6,500 B.C. to about 400 A.D. (The Getty uses B.C. and A.D. in all of their literature.) The building itself and the gardens were interesting to look at and wander through. I was afraid they would not allow cameras inside, but there was no problem with people taking pictures but I turned the flash off for all of these anyway.

Many of the statures were of gods and goddesses so we had a chance to brush up on our knowledge of ancient stories and myths. One whole room was devoted to the Trojan War.

The photo above is a closeup of the draped gown of a seated Zeus. The marble statue had been underwater for many years and if you look closely you can see two mollusk shells embedded in the folds of the gown.

This poor fellow on the right has been doomed for all eternity to try to remove an arrow from his back. It doesn't help that his hand no longer has an arm connected to it.

You might think that these last two sculptures were created by Picasso or some other contemporary artist but in reality they are very ancient. The one on the left is a Cycladic figure of marble dating from 2,700 to 2,300 B.C. The Cyclades are a Greek island group in the Aegean Sea. The fertility goddess on the right was made in Cyprus of limestone and dates from 3,000 to 2,500 B.C. For some reason I was especially drawn to this group of works, maybe because of the simplicity of the lines, or maybe because of the great age of the pieces.

Sunday I will be joining Grace for a demonstration of Ruth Asawa's work at the Japanese American National Museum. Ms. Asawa created sculptures from wire and we plan to attend a demonstration by her daughter who will show us how she did it. As Joan said, we are very lucky here in LA to have so many first rate museums.

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