Under the piercing Los Angeles sun, Richard Meier's work across the Getty Center is breathtaking; the pale tones and curvilinear structures stand brightly against the sky.
But when the waning gleam of dusk gives way to a rich sunset across the expanse of the Californian skies, the bold spaces seem to recede into the hills, leaving only traces of sharp outlines, rounded paths, and glimmering surfaces. The searing light mellows out, and the undulating walls begin to blush in seductive, fleshy tones that invites patrons to touch the stones, to slither up against the columns, and to forgo the padded lounge chairs for a seat on the cool, hard marble slabs across the grounds.
A view of the main galleries from the entrance.
It is a magic of the oldest, most impressive sort, and it can easily draw one's attention away from the commanding views, and from the equally formidable (if not occasionally embattled and disputed) collection of art and antiquities in the museum's possession. Not to be missed are the shallow waterways which, even when turned off as they are these days in an effort to conserve water during LA's drought, are still sculptural beauties to admire.
Meier's harmonizing use of Italian stone surfaces and marble should be like an oddly stylish, yet obtuse thumb jutting out above the motorways en route to San Diego. You exit Mullholland Drive and circle around aimlessly for sometime, trying to navigate the circuitous route to the center. And then, just when you are about to give up, there it is, looming curiously above the dusty hills.
The Getty shouldn't work, it shouldn't be so majestic on its craggy, misshapen swatch of the Santa Monica mountains. And yet, it works in a heartbreaking fashion. Particularly when viewed from a quiet corner, just as the masses file out and the horizon draws your gaze towards the Pacific coast.
"When the waning gleam of dusk gives way to a rich sunset across the expanse of the Californian skies..."
On visiting the Getty Museum at Dusk
Words and Images | Lisa-Marie Harris
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