What if leaves turned into fish? Illustration (detail) from the children's book If... by Sarah Perry (25th-Anniversary Edition)
Happy Memorial Day weekend!
This week we bring you three great stories, hoping you can read them in a quiet, sunny spot outdoors, birds singing and grill smells wafting. You'll also find a new twist on story time—we've filmed a child reading If..., a classic Getty book sure to bring out your inner child. And you busier bees might enjoy a mini podcast and video inspired by dutiful pets and mischievous putti.
Have a tip for keeping spirits high during this challenging time? We'd love to hear it! Email us at email@example.com.
Man with a Hoe, 1860–1862, Jean-François Millet. Oil on canvas. The J. Paul Getty Museum
The incredible rescue of a Millet masterpiece from the 1906 San Francisco fire
For curator Scott Allan, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to mind disastrous moments in our past when art managed, almost miraculously, to provide a measure of comfort and good news. And so he tells the story of Jean-François Millet's Man with a Hoe, an icon of French realism that was nearly incinerated in the fires that devastated San Francisco following the terrible earthquake of April 18, 1906. Find out who saved the painting, how the stark portrayal of manual labor hit a nerve in Gilded Age America, and what other great painting now in the Getty collection also survived the San Francisco disaster.
Injection-molded plastic "dog bones" as seen in polarized light
Just one word: Plastics
Dustin Hoffman's character in the 1967 classic The Graduate would have been right to take that LA businessman's advice to invest in plastics; plastic is now an unloved but ubiquitous part of modern life. But what is plastic, exactly? And why is the Getty Conservation Institute so interested in preserving it? Take a look at plastic's history, the many works of art made from plastic, and Getty's work to better understand and protect it.
Portrait of Rachel Rosenthal, about 1990, photo by Steven Arnold
Rachel Rosenthal, feminist-art pioneer
One of the key figures in the development of theater, performance, and feminist art in Los Angeles, Rachel Rosenthal has left an indelible mark on Southern California.
Her archive is now at the Getty Research Institute, and it covers every phase of her career—her early years in Paris and New York, her formative time in the New York art scene in the late 1940s and early '50s, her development of the experimental theater company Instant Theatre in the 1950s and '60s, her awakening into the feminist movement in the 1970s, and her mature performance and theater pieces.
In the first episode of Getty's new video series "Kids Reading to Kids," Bowie Sprinkle shows her friends a page from If... and asks, "What if dreams were visible?"
Romp through a world of limitless possibilities
What if cats could fly? If frogs ate rainbows? If leaves turned into fish? These are just a few of the imaginative scenarios dreamed up by Sarah Perry, author and illustrator of Getty's first children's book, If.... Originally published more than 25 years ago, this enchanting story remains a favorite among teachers and readers alike. Find out how one teacher uses it in his classroom, and hear a young reader share it with her friends.
The King of Arms of the Order of the Golden Fleece Writing about Jacques de Lalaing (detail), about 1530, Simon Bening. Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, and ink. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. 114 (2016.7), fol. 10
Pet pics have always been a thing
Manuscripts curator Beth Morrison delights in the parallel between her own lockdown workspace, where her dog dutifully curls up at her feet, and the workspace of an author portrayed in a 16th-century Flemish manuscript that she's been studying. "Pets provide comfort, they provide inspiration, and just like this writer in the middle ages, I like to have my dog near me," says Morrison. "It makes me realize that people in the middle ages are pretty much just like ourselves in terms of how they approach their lives."
Public programs and special events at the Getty Center and Getty Villa will be postponed through August 31. For more news on how Getty is responding to COVID-19, please see our special page. And follow us on social media for highlights of Getty art and resources, and to share what you'd like to see!