Getty photographs are impressions of art containing art.

At the Getty Center


J. Paul Getty: not just for oil anymore. The Getty Center has some remarkable sculptures, photographs, paintings, furniture, manuscripts and architecture. I made no attempts to photograph the art, though sometimes the people looking at the art caught my interest. The architecture, though, was another matter.

But there was a limitation: no tripods allowed, inside or out. And so, I took only a 35mm camera, with 400 ISO film. I made twelve exposures of museum architecture, inside and outside. This is consistent with my usual approach, since I rarely employ the shotgun method of photography to rely on editing later. Shown here are my favorite five of the bunch.

Angles and perspective push skyward in North Pavillion. Once the point of view is recognized, we can see the "N" at top left in it's proper orientation. I made no attempt to correct convergence, and framed the scene for alignment to that pavillion marker. I like the perspective and the way the building seems to slightly twist along the grid of dark windows.

Dimensions collide in The Grid. The plane geometry at the bottom contrasts with the curved space reflections of the bank of windows. It is like a window on a Reimannian Universe standing against Euclid's domain. Maybe you need to appreciate such mathematical things to really get into the contrast, but I think the juxtaposition of form is interesting regardless.

When people left the bench (reflected at upper right), I photographed Stone Pond. The pond, in shadow, picks up a blue cast from the sky, and the reflected buildings retain warmer, though muted, tones from direct sunlight.

Patterns of dark windows are repeated at the Getty Center, and their lines converge dramatically with the perspective of a wide angle lens. When I previewed the image in the viewfinder, I thought that the composition needed counterpoint to the architecture. A strong lead into the frame ought to be directed to a specific point of interest. A person, dressed in black to complement the windows, would add scale and focus to the architectural lines. Serendipity struck, and a young woman agreed to the idea. Together, we made Relaxing at the Getty.

In the last few moments of direct sunlight, I was able to photograph Imaginary Friends. Further explanation would probably reduce its impact. This photograph was awarded Best of Show at the California Mid-State Fair.

Images Copyright © Ed E. Powell
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