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Current Exhibition

The Art of Alchemy
October 11, 2016–February 12, 2017
Getty Research Institute Galleries I and II

Alchemy, a subject that has long been shrouded in secrecy, was a mysterious mix of science and spirituality. Today, alchemy is regarded as the ancestor of modern chemistry, but throughout history, the practice of alchemy was considered an art. In medieval Europe, it was known as The Great Art. Over time, alchemy greatly influenced the shifting interpretations of the relationship among art, science, and natural philosophy. Drawing primarily from the collections of the Getty Research Institute and the J. Paul Getty Museum, The Art of Alchemy will display the critical impact of this arcane subject on artistic practice and expression from Greco-Egyptian antiquity to medieval Central Asia, and from the Islamic world to Europe during the Enlightenment and beyond.

This exhibition will be on view at the Kulturforum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin in Germany from April 6 to July 23, 2017.

Image: Allegory of Distillation (detail), 1606. From Claudio de Domenico Celentano di Valle Nove, [Book of Alchemical Formulas] (Naples, 1606), p. 6. Manly Palmer Hall Collection of Alchemical Manuscripts. The Getty Research Institute, 950053, box 22

Upcoming Exhibitions

The Legacy of Ancient Palmyra
Coming February 8, 2017

War in Syria has irrevocably changed the ancient caravan city of Palmyra, famed as a meeting place of civilizations since its apogee in the mid-2nd to 3rd century CE. The Romans and Parthians knew Palmyra as a wealthy oasis metropolis, a center of culture and trade on the edge of their empires. For centuries, traveling artists and explorers have documented the site in former states of preservation. This online exhibition captures the site as it was photographed for the first time by Louis Vignes in 1864 and illustrated in the 18th century by the architect Louis-François Cassas. Their works contribute to Palmyra's legacy, one that goes far beyond the stones of its once great buildings.

Image: Temple of Bel, cella entrance (detail), Jean Baptiste Réville and Pierre Gabriel Berthault after Louis-François Cassas, 1799. From Voyage pittoresque de la Syrie, de la Phoénicie, de la Palestine, et de la Basse Egypte (Paris, 1799), vol. 1, pl. 46. The Getty Research Institute, 840011

Concrete Poetry: Words and Sounds in Graphic Space
March 28–July 30, 2017
Getty Research Institute, Gallery I

Drawing principally from the Getty Research Institute's vast collection of prints, artists' books, journals, and archives documenting the concrete poetry movement, this exhibition features work by Ian Hamilton Finlay (Scottish), Augusto de Campos and fellow Brazilians, foundational figure Eugen Gomringer (Bolivian-born Swiss), and key contemporaries who led the movement in new directions. Concrete Poetry takes as its focus the visual, verbal, and sonic experiments of the 1960s and 1970s, a period in which visual poems were disseminated internationally. Likewise, it explores how Finlay and de Campos invented new poetic forms ("poster-poems," "standing poems") and continuously reproduced their projects across media, transforming poems into three-dimensional objects and even digital animations.

Image: Open (Abre), Augusto de Campos. From Augusto de Campos and Julio Plaza, Poemobiles 1968/1974 (São Paulo, 1974). The Getty Research Institute, 92-B21581. Courtesy Augusto de Campos

Berlin and Los Angeles: Space for Music
April 25–July 30, 2017
Getty Research Institute, Gallery II

Berlin and Los Angeles: Space for Music explores how architecture can create unique musical environments, focusing on two iconic concert halls: the Berlin Philharmonic (1963) in West Berlin, designed by Hans Scharoun (1893–1972), and the Walt Disney Concert Hall (2003) in Los Angeles, designed by Frank Gehry (b. 1929). The exhibition brings together original drawings and sketches, photographs, and models to convey the uplifting atmospheres of these venues, as well as the extraordinary dialogue between the two cities and two architects that they represent.

Image: Walt Disney Concert Hall, Carol Highsmith, 2012. Courtesy of The Jon B. Lovelace Collection of California Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith's America Project, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

Traveling Exhibitions

World War I: War of Images, Images of War
September 28, 2016–January 8, 2017
Musée Würth, Erstein, France

World War I: War of Images, Images of War examines the art and visual culture of the First World War—a conflict of unprecedented mechanized slaughter as well as a struggle over the cultural dominance and direction of Europe.

The exhibition juxtaposes the representation of the war in visual propaganda with its depiction by artists who experienced the brutality firsthand. Drawing principally from the Getty Research Institute's special collections, the exhibition features a range of satirical journals, prints, posters, and photographs as well as accounts from the front, including a war diary, correspondence, and "trench art" made by soldiers. Through such archival and graphic material, World War I: War of Images, Images of War captures the trauma of this first modern war.

This exhibition is on view at Musée Würth in France from September 28, 2016, to January 8, 2017.

Image: The Sower of False News, Eugène Damblans, 1915. Cover of Le petit journal: Supplément illustré 26, no. 1265. (March 21, 1915): cover

The Edible Monument: The Art of Food for Festivals
December 16, 2016–April 16, 2017
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan

Elaborate artworks made of food were created for royal court and civic celebrations in early modern Europe. Like today's Rose Bowl Parade on New Year's Day or Mardi Gras just before Lent, festivals were times for exuberant parties. Public celebrations and street parades featured large-scale edible monuments made of breads, cheeses, and meats. At court festivals, banquet settings and dessert buffets featured magnificent table monuments with heraldic and emblematic themes made of sugar, flowers, and fruit. This exhibition, drawn from the Getty Research Institute's Festival Collection, features rare books and prints, including early cookbooks and serving manuals that illustrate the methods and materials for making edible monuments.

This exhibition is on view at Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit from December 16, 2016, to April 16, 2017.

Image: Pastry Tools (detail), Robert Bénard, 1771. From Denis Diderot, ed., Encyclopédie; ou, dictionnaire raisonné: Recueil de planches, vol. 8 (Paris, 1771), pl. 2, 84-B31307


Film Screening and Conversation
ASCENT: A film by Fiona Tan
January 10, 2017

Lecture and book signing
Provenance: Exposing the Spoils of War
January 25, 2017

Residential Course
Mellon Summer Institute in Italian Paleography
July 10–28, 2017