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Going to the Getty Hardcover – Digital Video Transfer, November 27, 1997
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This hip, silly, and ultimately sophisticated tour of the Getty, "once a man, now a Center," is by J.otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh, the well-known creators of the whimsical Olive, the Other Reindeer and four other delightfully wacky children's books. Their point of view can be compared only to a few other determinedly quirky individualists. Their art, however, is unique: sublimely blithe, computer-generated "modern" grab bags of form, line, lettering, and sophisticated color, with photographs and art reproductions thrown in from page to page. The pictures show a wonky, computer-generated family--Mom, Dad, and two kids--taking the Getty's tram to the top of the Los Angeles hill where its museum, offices, auditorium, conservation and research institutes, gardens, manuscript galleries, and publications offices (and more) are spread out. The text is deadpan: "The oldest painting in the Museum is from around 1330, and the newest one is from 1896. So even the newest painting is old."
Offering a tantalizing glimpse at the Getty's holdings, this book mentions the vast photography collections (with an 1880 image of the Eiffel Tower under construction) and clock collection (who knew?), as well as painting and sculpture. "Everyone has an opinion about what sculpture is." They describe the museum laboratories and the old paints that are used for "fixing an old painting." ("A certain ground-up bug made an interesting red.") In the end, "There is still a lot to see at the Getty Center, but the fog tells us that it is time to go home"--to return another day, no doubt. --Peggy Moorman
Gr. 4^-7. Those familiar with the works of Seibold and Walsh--Mr. Lunch Takes a Plane Ride (1993) and Mr. Lunch Borrows a Canoe (1994)--know their frenetic art and wild designs will not make for a sedate trip to the museum. They don't; and this works both for and against the book, which introduces the new L.A. Getty Center, gardens, conservation lab, and tram system to the world. There are a million things to look at in a layout that mixes the authors' own frenetic art with photos, architectural drawings, and art reproductions from the museum's holdings. Kids may pick up only bits and pieces of what the museum is all about, but most of those morsels will intrigue them. Still, some of the morsels are really meaningless. For instance, one page is devoted to composition, but the only text is: "Composition is Everything. It makes something good-looking." This is for California libraries and others that can use a virtual visit to the museum--though a wacky one to be sure. Ilene Cooper
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