Art Pick: Unseen Exposes 35 Years of the Getty’s Department of Photographs

Myoung Ho Lee, Tree #2, 1986 (J. Paul Getty Museum)Paul Wolff, Dog at the Beach, 1936 (J. Paul Getty Museum)Henry Holmes Smith, Photography student, 1947 (J. Paul Getty Museum)Anthony Hernandez, Los Angeles #1, 1969 (J. Paul Getty Museum)Emil Kadoo, Children of Harlem, 1965 (J. Paul Getty Museum)Andre Kertesz, Still life with snake, 1960 (printed later) (J. Paul Getty Museum)Julia Margaret Cameron, Spring, 1873 (J. Paul Getty Museum)Prince Roland Napoleon Bonaparte, Jacobus Huch, 1888 (J. Paul Getty Museum)Irving Penn, Red Apples, July 15, 1985 (J. Paul Getty Museum)Horst P. Horst, Hands, Hands, 1941 (J. Paul Getty Museum)Malick Sidibe, Back views, 2003 (J. Paul Getty Museum)Paul Outerbridge, Egg in Spotlight, 1943 (J. Paul Getty Museum)Carrie Mae Weems, See No Evil, 1991 (J. Paul Getty Museum)William Wegman, Dog and ball, 1973 (J. Paul Getty Museum)Pieter Hugo, Aissah Salifu, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2010 (J. Paul Getty Museum)Andreas Feininger, Elegant Disk Clam, Dosinia elegans, Conrad, 1948 (J. Paul Getty Museum)Mona Kuhn, Portrait 37, 2001 (J. Paul Getty Museum)Erwin Blumenfeld, Maroua Motherwell, New York, 1941-43 (J. Paul Getty Museum)Hong Hao, My Things, No. 5 - 5,000 pieces of rubbissh, 2002 (J. Paul Getty Museum)William Klein, Antonia and Mirrors, Paris, 1963 (printed 1990) (J. Paul Getty Museum)Sharon Core, Early American, Strawberries and ostrich egg, 2007 (J. Paul Getty Museum)Nan Goldin, Self-portrait, Red, Zurich, 2002 (J. Paul Getty Museum)Lyle Ashton Harris, Man and Woman #1, 1987-88 (J. Paul Getty Museum)Otto Steinert, Mud Pond 2, 1953 (printed 1960s) (J. Paul Getty Museum)

The holdings of the Getty Center’s collections are legendarily vast; their photography collection alone contains nearly 150,000 objects, the majority of which have never yet been exhibited at the museum. Their current survey show, Unseen: 35 Years of Collecting Photography, celebrates the 1984 founding of the photo department, and aims to make a dent in that exhibition record.

With works from the 1850’s to the last decade, by artists from every corner of the world, and employing the full range of technological evolutions in the medium, the show takes a broad view of the institution’s holdings, and, most intriguingly, avoids the blockbuster images in favor of a selection of never-before-exhibited holdings. While there is no shortage of marquee names from photography history, even in those cases, the works themselves are lesser-known, providing a more nuanced look at those artist’s work and more than a few creative surprises.

Additionally, they’ve eschewed rigidly academic didactics in favor of an interdepartmental curatorial team’s more intuitive selections, augmenting this plurality of viewpoints with more personal notes from the curator’s than museum audiences typically receive. The result is a personable, accessible, and thorough loosely thematic cross-section which offers audiences multiple entry points into the collection as a whole and the museum’s ethos of eclectic connoisseurship.

Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Dr., Brentwood; exhibition on view through March 8.

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.

LA Weekly