Every year since 1985 the Research Institute has welcomed scholars, artists, and other cultural figures from around the world to work in residence at the Institute on projects that bear upon its annual research theme. While in residence, they pursue their own research projects, make use of Getty collections, and participate in the intellectual life of the Getty Center and the Getty Villa.

2013/2014: Object—Value—Canon


Art-historical interpretation has traditionally proceeded from the description of an object; to discussions about its artistic, cultural, or commercial value; and then to attempts to place the object in a canon with other works. With the movement of art history from a Western-oriented discipline to a global one, this interpretive process—and the terms themselves—must be examined in a new way. Object, value, and canon have different significances in other historical and social contexts. A more diverse integration of understudied visual and archaeological objects necessitates a reassessment of the traditional approach in order to enrich the understanding of the world's artistic heritage. In addition to the global turn, current technological developments present their own challenges to traditional art-historical methodologies, including expansive but unauthoritative resources. The objects as well as the canon must be reevaluated in the era of digital humanities.

2013/2014: Connecting Seas: Cultural and Artistic Exchange


Water has long been a significant means for the movement of goods and people. Sophisticated networks, at a variety of scales, were established in antiquity around the Mediterranean and the Black Seas, and later in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. Together with sporadic and accidental encounters, these networks fostered commerce in raw materials and finished objects, along with the exchange of ideas and cultural concepts. Far from being barriers, seas and oceans were vital links connecting cultures. The 2013–2014 academic year at the Getty Research Institute and Getty Villa will be devoted to exploring the art-historical impact of maritime transport.

How has the desire for specific commodities from overseas shaped social, political, and religious institutions? How has the introduction of foreign materials and ideas transformed local artistic traditions, and what novel forms and practices have developed from trade and other exchanges, both systematic and informal? What role do the objects born of these interactions have in enhancing cultural understandings or perpetuating misunderstandings? How has the rapidly accelerating pace of exchange in recent years influenced cross-cultural developments? The goal of this research theme is to explore how bodies of water have served, and continue to facilitate, a rich and complex interchange in the visual arts.

2012/2013: Color


Color is an essential component of artistic production and therefore should be fundamental to art historical analysis. The topic of color can be explored from various angles, giving insight into the aesthetics, symbolism, psychology, technology, materiality, conservation, and production of works of art. The Getty Research Institute invites proposals for the scholar year that address the artistic use of color from ancient to contemporary times in any culture. Proposals focused on the Research Institute's collections will be given particular consideration.

In addition to the theme of color, we also welcome applications from scholars engaged in research projects on classical and ancient Mediterranean art and archaeology, the reception of antiquity, and other topics pertaining to the collections, resources, and programs of the Getty Villa.

2011/2012: Artistic Practice


Scholars in Residence, 2011/2012
Scholars in Residence, 2011/2012

Artists mobilize a variety of intellectual, organizational, technological, and physical resources to create their work. This scholar year will delve into the ways in which artists receive, work with, and transmit ideas and images in various cultural traditions.

At the Getty Research Institute, scholars will pay particular attention to the material manifestations of memory and imagination in the form of sketchbooks, notebooks, pattern books, and model books. How do notes, remarks, written and drawn observations reveal the creative process? In times and places where such media were not in use, what practices were developed to give ideas material form?

In the ancient world, artists left traces of their creative process in a variety of media, but many questions remain for scholars in residence at the Getty Villa: What was the role of prototypes such as casts and models; what was their relationship to finished works? How were artists trained and workshops structured? How did techniques and styles travel?

An interdisciplinary investigation among art historians and other specialists in the humanities will lead to a richer understanding of artistic practice.

2010/2011: The Display of Art


Scholars in Residence, 2010/2011
Scholars in Residence, 2010/2011

Display is a driving force in the art world by bringing together ideas with objects and creating narratives that assign meanings. Our experience of any object and the meaning we take from it change with the social, political, economic, and cultural contexts of its display. In some cases, objects only become works of art by virtue of being displayed.

The modern museum's raison d'être is display, and the study of museums and their history will be of interest during this scholar year, as will the relationship of display to conservation and interpretation. Aspects of display related to antiquity will also form a special focus. Finally, a particular display may itself be an artful endeavor worthy of study.

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2009/2010: The Display of Art


Scholars in Residence, 2009/2010
Scholars in Residence, 2009/2010

To display an object is to assert that it is worthy of inspection. The object may be considered culturally important or beautiful or the product of extraordinary skill, and its display may itself be an artful endeavor worthy of study. The creation of determined viewing conditions brings together ideas and objects, creating narratives that assign meanings, so that our experience of any object and the meaning we take from it change with its mode of display. Consider a cult statue set in an ancient temple, carried away and displayed as booty in a triumphal procession, reused as spolia, showcased in a sculpture garden, recast in plaster for artists to study, adorning the hall of a country house, exhibited in a national museum, reproduced on a postcard, and given a virtual existence on the web. The life story of a work of art requires attention to the social, political, economic, and cultural contexts of its display.

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2008/2009: Networks and Boundaries


Scholars in Residence, 2008/2009
Scholars in Residence, 2008/2009

The study of the visual arts can and does cross cultural, civilizational, ethnic, religious, and geographic boundaries. Cultural exchange takes place through kaleidescopic networks that are themselves dynamic and transformative. These exchanges are integral to the construction of boundaries, contributing to definitions of self and other. The contact zones within which they occur are marked by appropriations, hybridizations, and syncretisms—all of which remap cultural boundaries. The study of the visual arts has its own networks and boundaries, including interdisciplinarity and divisions between national, area, and world histories. How freely have artists, art objects, and artistic concepts and practices moved across socio-political and cultural boundaries? And with what results? How closely do artistic crossings and their analyses map onto larger networks of power and economics? How do we negotiate the different demands of local cultural contexts with larger regional and/or global concerns?

The Power and Function of Ancient Images

In 2008–2009 the scholars program at the Getty Villa built upon the work of Villa Professor François Lissarrague and focused on the creation, circulation, and reception of images in antiquity. How ancient images functioned in later periods was also of interest. The Greek polis gave birth to a foundational system of representation based on a precise idea of the human body. How were these representations employed? What were the Bronze Age antecedents of such images? What criteria did the Etruscans and the Romans use in selecting and reproducing Greek images? More generally, how did images "react" to the subjectivities of viewers both at the centers and the periphery of the Greco-Roman world?

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2007/2008: Change


Scholars in Residence, 2007/2008
Scholars in Residence, 2007/2008

The question remains open: can change—by definition an object of inquiry that exists between and above the physical objects of art–historical investigation—come back to its former centrality? How would that be accomplished? And is it necessary at all?

Cultural Identity and the Peoples of the Ancient Mediterranean

Scholarship on cultural identity generally privileges the ways that groups differentiate themselves from others. Attention is paid to the drawing of boundaries between communities by the deployment of identifying symbols and practices ranging from dress and language to works of art and religious ritual. Indeed, the binary self versus other structures most research in this area.

In 2007–2008, the Villa scholars program built upon the work of Erich Gruen (in residence for the year as Villa Professor) to explore another aspect of cultural differentiation in the context of the ancient Mediterranean world. In constructing cultural identity, ancient peoples often willingly acknowledged their ties to others. How did ancient Mediterranean peoples visualize themselves as part of a broader heritage? How did they forge links with other groups? What happens to research in this area when similarities and togetherness are stressed rather than differences and otherness?

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2006/2007: Religion and Ritual


Most art-historical investigation into religious art has taken the art as its point of departure. It may be beneficial to focus more directly on religious habits of mind themselves and see how they express themselves in other areas of creativity. We might even ask to what degree traces of a culture's religious or spiritual mentality are registered in art where no overt religious purpose is expressed. Conversely, emergent secular outlooks may most vividly be registered in ostensibly religious images and symbols. We might also ask whether an emphasis on visual interest excludes a large body of material deemed "minor" or "popular," a good deal of it ephemeral, which may tell us more about a historical religious culture than works that lend themselves to elegant formal analysis. Finally, given that the categories now used to think about the transaction between the arts and religion were not in place when many of the works were produced, to what degree can one gain access to a religious sensibility through art history in its present condition?

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2005/2006: Duration: Persistence of Antiquity


The familiar melancholy that has attended the recollection of antiquity as fragment and ruin stands in contrast to the vitality of its traditions as they persist in popular forms almost beneath the level of conscious reflection. One has only to turn to the astrological forecasts in the daily newspaper to encounter the living relics of ancient magic and superstition. When Renaissance poets and artists embraced the rediscovered images of the Olympian gods, these entities did not relinquish their longstanding place in the social imaginary as celestial powers governing human affairs. Oral, divinatory, and festive traditions have played parts in the persistence of antiquity every bit as important as literate ones, often continuing unabated when textual transmission falters. Each repetition and adaptation of some element of classical culture represents its concrete survival into a new era, such that we ourselves live within a web of thoughts, beliefs, and mental associations many centuries old—and this deep continuity can even be obscured by self-conscious episodes of "revival" or "rebirth." As a theme, the persistence of antiquity can bear on research in nearly all places and periods within the traditions of Western culture and in every setting where those traditions have been exported and contested.

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2004/2005: Duration


No work of art, however enduring, can be literally timeless. Stone crumbles; pigments fade; paint cracks and flakes; buildings rot and collapse. The gardens of Le Nôtre as much as Robert Rauschenberg's Grass Painting, the latex sculptures of Eva Hesse no less than a vernacular shingle cottage in New England—all exist within a process of growth or decay rather than as completed, unchangeable objects. The temporal dimension of art and architecture extends from evanescence to apparent endlessness. Recent trends in sophisticated art practices have emphasized duration in spectatorship, inviting the interaction of viewers and incorporating their movements through space. In dance, music, theater, film, and the novel, an unfolding over time has always been their essence; and increasing attention is being paid to the historical imprint of such temporal art forms on the creation and experience of painting, sculpture, and architecture.

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2003/2004: Markets and Value


Works of art are commonly acknowledged to have "aesthetic value" and "market value," but defining these terms and the relationship between them has been a persistent challenge. These two notions of value have often been aligned, with great material worth and cultural renown accorded to the same objects. This has led a few scholars to take the extreme position that there is no meaningful distinction between market and aesthetic value: arguing that, especially in the modern economy, works of art are merely cultural commodities. Most scholars persist in maintaining that the psychic, symbolic, and intellectual satisfactions provided by works of art cannot be reduced to the measure of the market; yet any meaningful history of taste, consumption, and display requires that the aesthetic and the economic be correlated. The 2003-2004 Scholar Year at the Getty Research Institute focused on theoretical approaches to assigning value in art and on empirical studies of how emotive, cognitive, and economic values have been intertwined in the history of art.

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2002/2003: Biography


Biographical narrative has been central to the practice of art history since the publication of Vasari's Vite de piu excellenti architetti, pittori, et scultori italiani (1550), but its validity can no longer be taken for granted. Surveying an artist's work and relating it to his or her life history has been challenged by newer theoretical and contextual approaches. Biographical narrative has been criticized for relying on false assumptions about unities of period, life, and work. Even the very possibility of a coherent "subject" for biography has been questioned. Critics have emphasized that biography is a genre, conforming to rhetorical conventions and historically specific traditions of use. A generation of sustained critique has weakened biography's authority, but it is by no means certain that a wholesale jettisoning of biographical method would not entail significant losses for art historical research. Scholars engaged with identity-based practices, for example, insist that the artist's background is crucial to interpretation. While biographical methodology is debated in academia, well-researched biographies for the general reader have never been more popular.

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2001/2002: Frames of Viewing: Perception, Experience, Judgment


In recent years a number of disciplines have returned to the fundamental problem of how body, mind, and culture combine to produce perception and aesthetic experience. Contemporary approaches—from studies of contexts of beholding to measurements of eye movement to theories of the gaze—belong to a rich history of attempts to comprehend perception and its consequences, among them the judgment of certain experiences and objects as aesthetic. This scholar year was devoted to the exploration of attempts, past and present, to understand how art is framed by perception, experience, and judgment.

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2000/2001: Reproductions and Originals


The ideas "original objects" and "reproductions" are problematic ones — as if an artwork could ever be entirely without precedent or understood apart from the historical conditions of its (re)production and reception. Terms like "original" and "copy" are implicated in one another and in intermediate terms like "imitation," "replication," "homage," or "appropriation." These terms have been employed in investigating a wide range of questions in the history of art and culture. Greek sculptors, whose products came to define a Western figural canon, worked largely in a serial, reproductive mode of bronze casting. Printmakers in early modern Europe conceived of reproductive engraving as possessing an aesthetic and cognitive value independent of the paintings that served as their models. In various studio systems, the actual hand of the master is not deemed as essential. What then is the status of replicas and how can this be distinguished from contemporary market-driven notions of originality? With the modern era came reproduction by mechanical means, which altered the artwork's value, or so it has been claimed. Nineteenth-century debates about the relation of photograph to original, viewers to viewing, and copyright resemble in some ways current debates about digitization, suggesting that innovations in reproductive technologies might profitably be compared.

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1999/2000: Humanities in Comparative, Historical Perspective


Some see the humanities as the bearers of a culture's deepest values and expressive resources. Others see them as an elite field of overprotected specialists working on esoteric and irrelevant topics. What do the humanities teach? to whom? for what? How is that teaching related to what is taught by the arts? And how do the answers to these questions differ in various countries and historical periods?

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1997/1998 and 1998/1999: Representing the Passions


The theme for the 1997/1998 and 1998/1999 scholar years was "Representing the Passions." Scholars in residence at the Research Institute studied the ways in which strong, ungovernable emotions have been represented and classified. Clearly there is an important social need to name the passions, thus distinguishing them from one another, and to develop gestural and rhetorical conventions and codes about them. Yet their ungovernability threatens either to break through or to be lost by the cultural conventions and codes that attempt to fix, ritualize and control them. The problem of coping with this ungovernability has been wrestled with by theorists of human nature, language, and politics since antiquity, and it continues to confront artists of all kinds—painters, actors, writers, musicians. "Representing the passions" is a problem which is woven into the history of the arts and humanities and is an intricate part of their pattern still.

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1996/1997: Perspectives on Los Angeles: Narratives, Images, History


The Research Institute's 1996/1997 residential scholar program, Perspectives on Los Angeles: Narratives, Images, History, was devoted to research on Los Angeles and to comparative projects that viewed the city in relationship to other hemispheric and global sites. Scholars in residence had the opportunity to participate in a number of corollary programs developed by the Research Institute on issues of identity, community, and public culture, as well as programs having to do with preservation, resource development, and the comparative study of cities in the Americas at the turn of the century.

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1995/1996: The Nature and Idea of Collecting


During the 1995/1996 year Getty Scholars explored the nature and idea of collecting as a topic broadly defined to include: the social and institutional practice of collecting; how it reflects the values of a given community, region, and era; systems of display and classification; and the emergence of new languages and classes of collecting. Among the areas studied by this year's Getty Scholars were the collecting practices of Renaissance Italy, the dispersal of the art collections of Great Britain after the Civil Wars of 1640, and the social function of collecting in Oceanic cultures.

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1994/1995: Memory


For the 1994/1995 year, invitations were extended to a broad range of scholars whose work explored the subject of memory as a psychological, cultural, and historical practice. A particular focus of study was the modes in which memory is organized, whether oral, corporeal, or institutional.

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1993/1994: The Americas


Scholars chosen for the 1993/1994 year were engaged in research of the most varied aspects of the cultures of the Americas, from Pre-Columbian times to the present. Their contributions addressed issues related to empire, colonialism, diasporas, and cultural contact, as well as the impact of these events on artistic and cultural production.

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1992/1993: The Metropolis as Crucible


During the 1992/1993 year, scholars whose work explores the metropolitan experience and its impact on culture in its many social, literary, industrial, and visual aspects were invited to the Research Institute. The fields of study represented included art, architecture, ethnic studies, literature, philosophy and film.

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1991/1992: Popular and Mass Culture


Scholars for the 1991/1992 year engaged in research that advanced our understanding of the realms of expression variously labeled traditional, popular, folk, ethnic, and commercial. They explored the thresholds between these categories and what is generally defined as high culture. Their research focused on the nature and impact of popular and traditional beliefs on religion, education, imagery, and culture from the Middle Ages to the present. The fields of study represented included art, architecture, dance, literature, philosophy, and film.

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1990/1991: Time and Ritual in Antiquity


This scholar year was originally centered around classical antiquity. A broad spectrum of scholars working in that field were invited, together with a smaller satellite group working on the Ancient Near East, Africa, Precolumbian America, and Asia. As acceptances were received, however, the majority came from the satellite group of scholars, who were working in areas of antiquity outside classical Greece and Rome. This turn of events generated a rich comparativist interplay among scholars studying Precolumbian and colonial Peru, Africa, the Ancient Near East, Etruscan Italy, and the Hellenistic world. In the end, only Asia was unrepresented.

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1989/1990: The Avant-Garde


The scholars for the 1989/1990 year played an important role in the development of a more comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach to the arts of the early twentieth century—especially those called avant-garde—by increasing our understanding of the cultures in which they flourished. The fields of interest represented included comparative literature, the history of art and architecture, musicology, psychology, and film history.

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1988/1989: The Production of Artifacts and the Formation of Disciplines


During the 1988/1989 year scholars focused on the distinctive qualities of cultural products selected for historical analysis or the ways in which scholarly interpretations are linked to particular methodological and theoretical assumptions. Many stressed close observation of cultural customs, traditions, and patterns of production. Others examined disciplinary practices and their interpretive strategies. Vital contributions were made toward fashioning interdisciplinary approaches for analyzing cultural continuities and changes. This group of scholars was drawn from the fields of anthropology, ethnography, the history of art, social history, and sociology.

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1987/1988: Reception and Interpretation of the Arts


During the 1987/1988 year scholars pursued individual areas of research while also exploring the theme of reception and interpretation of works of art and cultural products. Scholars approached this theme from their personal areas of expertise, which ranged from photography through ethnomathematics.

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1986/1987: Seventeenth Century Dutch Art and Society/Patronage


Scholars explored two research themes during the 1986/1987 year: Seventeenth Century Dutch painting and the broader issues of art patronage. The scholars were drawn from disciplines ranging from art history to economic history.

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1985/1986: Aesthetic Experience and Affinities among the Arts


Those participating in the Research Institute's first Scholar year, 1985/1986, represented a diversity of interests. These ranged from Roman architectural history and Italian and French Renaissance art to the history of American music. The program was designed to bring together art historians and scholars in the social sciences and humanities to further the Research Institute's goal of fostering an interdisciplinary reexamination of art in cultures past and present.

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