Caravaggio at Getty Center

The Getty Center is my favorite place in Los Angeles to bring visitors and visit on my own.  Climbing in the train up the hill to the museum’s entrance is like ascending to a Greek temple.  There are some paintings which have become like old friends over the years, in particular: Spring, by Lawrence Alma Tadama.

Currently at the Getty is a special exhibition of three Caravaggio paintings.  He is a painter of light and darkness, like how he lived his life, which was dominated by his hoodlum lifestyle and street fights on the one hand, and his talent second to none that still shines today.  He was often on the run from the law and was saved only by his mastery of painting.  His originality included the creation of a new painting method – from dark to light shades, and the usage of everyday people, including beggars and prostitutes, as models of saints.  While looking at other great paintings from the same era, one can trace Caravaggio’s influence.  I thought about the notion of appropriation and how we all, consciously or not, are doing it in one way or another.

And maybe the greatest gift of this visit was noticing a new angle, a unique point of view of this white marvelous architectural complex nested high above the city.

January 2018