In Focus: The Sky – at the Getty Center


Dreamy, contemplative photographic images of our planet’s firmament are currently on display at The J. Paul Getty Museum; In Focus: The Sky, a thematically-installed exhibition of permanent collection photographs, will be on view at the Getty Center from July 26 – December 4, 2011.


“The sky has fascinated and challenged photographers since the invention of the medium,” said Anne Lyden, associate curator, Department of Photographs, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and curator of the exhibition. “This exhibition showcases a wide range of approaches to capturing the many moods and effects of the sky—things we usually take for granted.”


The selection of 22 artworks provides visitors with an opportunity to explore the Getty Museum’s world-renowned photographs collection through the pictorial subject of the sky, with the works loosely organized under four different themes: urban skies, clouds, dark skies, and colorful skies.

The exhibition features photographs by artists such as: Ansel Adams, John Divola, André Kertész, Joel Meyerowitz, Alfred Stieglitz and Carleton Watkins, among others.

The Getty’s collection includes exemplary objects that demonstrate both technological and aesthetic innovations in photography.  Among the different processes highlighted are daguerreotypes, albumen silver prints, palladium prints, platinum prints, and more contemporary inkjet prints.

One of the most well-known works in the exhibition is Ansel Adams’ Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, (negative made November 1, 1941; printed December 16, 1948).

Traveling by car through New Mexico, Adams was inspired by light from the setting sun illuminating crosses in the graveyard at the side of the road.

By carefully considering the composition, visualizing the printed image before creating the photograph, understanding the required exposure needed in response to the available light, and exerting a certain degree of control in the printing process so that detail and shadows were retained, Adams succeeded in capturing the fleeting moment when the sun was setting and the bright moon appeared in the darkening sky.


The summer sky of Cape Cod features in Meyerowitz’s photograph Fence, Truro, negative 1976; printed 1992.  Having recently acquired a large view camera, Meyerowitz spent two summers recording the structures and light of the coastal area that ultimately resulted in the 1978 book, Cape Light.  Noting the shifting shadows as they played across the picket fence, his use of color aptly describes the very subject of light itself.

Included in the exhibition is a selection from John Divola’s Zuma Beach series. In the fall of 1977, after discovering an abandoned lifeguard headquarters at Zuma Beach, California, Divola began visiting the site mornings and evenings to photograph.  Bringing paints, using flash, and depending on the Pacific Ocean and the ever-changing sky for a dramatic backdrop, he created spontaneous scenes in this seaside theater.


Also on view is a small group of three photographs by Alfred Stieglitz. From 1922 to 1934, Stieglitz photographed clouds and created a series of abstract configurations which reflected the fluctuation of his subjective state. By simply titling each piece Equivalent, he invited an open reading of the images and their content.


In Focus: The Sky is the ninth installation of the ongoing In Focus series of exhibitions, thematic presentations of photographs from the Getty’s permanent collection.


Upcoming In Focus shows include In Focus: Los Angeles, opening in December 2011 as part of the Pacific Standard Time initiative.



In Focus: The Sky


At the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center

July 26 – December 4, 2011





Related Courses and Lectures:


Gallery Course

Experiencing the Getty Collection: The Union of Art & Science

This three-part gallery course investigates scientific principles at work in artistic practices from the Renaissance to the contemporary.


Join educator William Zaluski and a special guest educator for each session to examine, reflect on, and discuss works of art.


Course fee $15 per session. Open to 35 participants.

Part 1: September 10, 2011, 10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. New Materials and Techniques in Painting

Part 2: October 15, 2011, 10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. From Molten to Mass and Beyond

Part 3: November 19, 2011, 10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Instruments of Seeing.

This session focuses on photographs in the exhibition In Focus: The Sky.


Location:  Sketching Gallery and Museum galleries, Getty Center.

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations:  the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.


Visiting the Getty Center

The Getty Center is open Tuesday through Friday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. It is closed Monday and major holidays. Admission to the Getty Center is always free.  Parking is $15 per car, but free after 5pm on Saturdays and for evening events throughout the week. No reservation is required for parking or general admission. Reservations are required for event seating and groups of 15 or more. Please call 310-440-7300 (English or Spanish) for reservations and information. The TTY line for callers who are deaf or hearing impaired is 310-440-7305.  The Getty Center is at 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, California


Additional information is available here.

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Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek is a Los Angeles-based arts enthusiast with twenty-five years' experience covering International Film Festivals and reviewing new Theatre, Film and Restaurants.


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