Los Angeles

Getty Center: High Art in Los Angeles

Getty Center
Getty Center

The Getty Center, a major art gallery in Los Angeles, is an amazing place even if you’re not particularly into art. Trust me, I know something about the tastes of people who are not particularly into art.

The gallery buildings sit on the top of a hill overlooking LA. You can’t drive up to the buildings. Instead, you park in an uninspiring, multilevel parking structure at the bottom of the hill. A driverless tram then takes you to the top, winding its way up the hill.

The architecture of the buildings of The Getty, as it’s commonly called, is stunning. And the views of LA and the surrounding area, including the LA hills and the ocean, are spectacular. Stunning and spectacular. What’s not to like? And I haven’t even said anything about the art yet.

Grounds and Galleries of the Getty Center

Sculptures at the Getty Center
Sculptures at the Getty Center

The grounds of the Getty Center are also beautiful. They include a winsome garden, with a very calming tree-lined path. While I was there, the sun just started to set and the its light dappled the path with a muted hue through the leaves of trees. Yes, there were leaves on the trees when I was there in November. As a guy from Canada, I’m always a little taken aback by that sort of thing.

The galleries contain considerable fabulous works of art of various types, styles and periods. At least I think they were fabulous, but what the hell do I know about such things? I have no artistic taste. Included in the collections were paintings, sculptures, modern photography, daguerreotypes, and decorative and household items such as bowls, vases, etc.

If you’re as ignorant as I am, you’re probably saying to yourself, “Daguerreotypes? What the hell are daguerreotypes?” The truth is, I didn’t know until I visited The Getty. Now I do because an exhibit there explained them to me.

Led down the garden path
Led down the garden path

Daguerreotype is an early form of photography that was used in the 1800s. Preparing the plate used for the photo was a laborious manual process. Exposure times could be as long as 20 seconds. If a picture was of a person, that person had to sit still the whole time. Developing and fixing the plate was also an arduous manual process.

Now you know. Then again, maybe you aren’t as ignorant as I am and you already knew. In which case, I’ve wasted your time. Sorry about that.

There is no fee to visit the Getty Center, although parking costs $15. If you go there by public transit (do people in LA take transit?) or walking (do people in LA walk?) it costs you nothing to get in. The Getty Center was built, the permanent collections were acquired and the facility is maintained by a foundation  that J. Paul Getty set up in his will. Damned, that guy was rich.

Been there? Done that? Do tell.