I recently spent three days touring Los Angeles with the Director and trustees of the Virigina Museum of Fine Art. Successive visits to our great institutions underlined the extraordinary visual wealth that surrounds us. Focused on classical treasures, we began at the Getty Villa. The permanent collection as well as the four temporary exhibitions, including the seductive “Lasting Allure of Ancient Gems”, was impressive and edifying. Viewing was made especially lively with a very knowledgable docent. Sans docent, I highly recommend the complimentary audio along with the map of Highlights. These tools will make your visit to the Villa one of insight and pleasure. Getty Villa
At the Getty Center, “Captured Emotions: Baroque Painting in Bologna 1575-1725″ was a highly engaging exhibition focused on the Carracci family of painters from Bologna. During a time when painting was thought to be stagnant, Annibale and Agostino, and their cousin Ludovico were changing the course of art history. They set standards that were to remain authoritative for 200 years, influencing artists such as Guido Reni. The show ended May 3, but the enlightened catalog is available in the bookstore. Getty Center
Pasadena’s glory is almost boundless, starting with the Gamble House. If you’ve never been or haven’t been lately, put it on your list. Designed by Charles and Henry Greene in 1908 for David and Mary Gamble of the Procter and Gamble Company, it is one of the outstanding examples of American Arts and Crafts style architecture. The level of commitment and quest for quality from both the architects and the clients is truly an inspiration. Reservations required for the tour. Gamble House
The Norton Simon Museum is a gift on every visit. One of the greatest private collections ever assembled by an individual, it comprises more than 12,000 works of art from from the Renaissance to the 20th century as well as remarkable work of South and Southeast Asian art spanning 2,000 years. In preparation for our visit, I recently reread Suzanne Muchnic’s informative biography “Odd Man In”. Not only does it detail Simon’s passion for collecting, it comments extensively on the history and growth of LA’s art institutions. It also details Simon’s legendary machinations involved in the acquisition of specifc works, such as Rembrandt’s “Titus”. Insight gained from the book makes the work even more compelling. Norton Simon Museum
Exhibitions at the Huntington just keep getting better. This small but exquisite show of calligraphy and paintings from the Weng Collection offer another example of erudite collecting on the part of an individual collector. Beautiful examples of scroll paintings and calligraphy are presented for optimum viewing and are fascinating even for viewers less familiar with this genre.
Lastly, no trip to the Huntington is complete without a stroll through the Desert Garden. At this time of the year many plants are in bloom. The whole garden is incredibly exotic and visually arresting. It is a premier place to contemplate the power of sculpture, as these plants rival the best of it. And of course, the other gardens are a delight, including the recently completed Chinese Garden based on the classical gardens in Suzhou, China.