Photographs of the Getty Center by Joe Deal


Between Nature and Culture: Photographs of the Getty Center by Joe Deal

Joe Deal, Mark Johnstone, Richard Meier, Weston Naef


132 pages

PDF file size: 83.6 MB


“I was interested in the Getty Center site because it was a place that had somehow escaped development. It was an island or peninsula of scarred mountainside surrounded by a carefully constructed landscape that was about to become a cultural symbol unlike anything else in the neighborhood, or even the country.” —Joe Deal

In the years between 1984 and 1997, photographer Joe Deal recorded the transformation of a chaparral-covered mountaintop to the travertine-covered complex of the Getty Center.

Expanding his work chronicling the changing Southern California landscape, Deal embarked on a campaign to document the construction of a major piece of architecture and interpret its relationship to the natural environment. He completed the assignment in two phases: The photographs made during the first phase (April 1984–March 1989) capture the natural ruggedness of the terrain and establish its relationship to the developed neighboring enclaves. Those made during the second phase (April 1992–August 1997) not only record the actual construction process but also reveal Deal’s personal perspective on the qualities of light and the creation of form. Represented in this book is a selection from the resulting portfolio, Topos, a Greek word meaning place, site, position, and occasion—Deal’s artistic legacy to the Getty Center.

Mark Johnstone has written an essay in which he provides both a key to understanding Joe Deal’s unique vision as well as commentaries on the thematic groups and individual photographs reproduced.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
    Richard Meier
  • Stopping Time: A Photographer’s Changing Viewpoint
    Weston Naef
  • The Construction of Culture
    Mark Johnstone
  • The Transformation of a Landscape
    Joe Deal
  • Topos
    • Passage
    • Site
    • Position
    • Occasion
    • Place
  • List of Photographs

About the Authors

Joe Deal’s photographs have been widely exhibited. They appear in major museum collections and in the book Joe Deal: Southern California Photographs 1976Ð86.

Richard Meier received the 1984 Pritzker Architecture Prize. He is the architect of the Getty Center as well as many buildings in the United States and Europe.

Weston Naef is curator of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Mark Johnstone is public art administrator of the Department of Cultural Affairs of the City of Los Angeles.

Press Reviews and Awards

  • “Deal captures the beauty of unfolding architectural form in austere black & white.” —Publishers Weekly