Monday, May 21, 2007

A Riot of Color: Flowers at the Getty

It’s little wonder Los Angeles became such a city of glamour. The flowers here call out for their close-ups. In the taxi from LAX to UCLA, a little poem ran through my head,
bougainvillea, jacaranda, Clytemnestra, penicillin
. Somehow, these double spondees (BOUgainVILLea) with their lovely assertive melodies seem right for the plump, fleshy, swollen flowers that create little pops of color in the beige and sage coastal desert landscape. The flowers are loud here. The purples are neon bright; the yellows are canaries; the oranges scream danger. Everything is either prickly or tuberous. This is not a subtle seduction. It’s a sexy and glamourous floralscape.

My plane landed at noon and by 1:30 I was at the Getty Museum. It was more breathtaking than I’d expected. I was pleasantly surprised to see Tim Hawkinson’s crazy giant organ, an odd, silly, and happy piece that I’d seen at MassMoCA last year. There was a lovely small exhibit of paintings of animals by Oudry, including a haunting life-sized portrait of Clara the rhinoceros and an even more glorious and smaller show of illuminated manuscripts depicting animals. The decorative arts collection was incredible but, when I got there, fatigue and jetlag had set in. And, finally, for all that was moving about the art, it was, as I had been told to expect, the architecture, the garden, and the views that really dazzled. What a lovely, grand welcome! Hurrah!

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