Join Jim Cuno, president of the J. Paul Getty Trust, as he talks with artists, writers, curators, and scholars about their work. Listen in as he engages these important thinkers in reflective and critical conversations about architecture, archaeology, art history, and museum exhibitions.
The Life and Afterlife of an Ancient Maya Carving
“Lamb’s objective was essentially to do Kon-Tiki in the Chiapan Rainforest. And he needed a lost city as a selling point.”
In 1950, American adventurers Dana and Ginger Lamb traveled to the jungles of northern Guatemala looking for Maya ruins and a story they could turn into a movie. There they encountered a rich cache of decorated structures made in the first millennium CE, including a particularly elaborate limestone lintel (a horizontal support above a doorway) carved by an artisan named Mayuy. Such objects had and continue to hold great historical, aesthetic, and spiritual significance for Maya people and descendants. Unfortunately, like many Maya ruins, the site has since been looted, and retracing the original locations of the displaced works is challenging.
In this episode, Stephen Houston, editor of A Maya Universe in Stone, explores the production and complex afterlives of these Maya objects. Houston contextualizes carved lintels within ancient Maya history and visual and spiritual practices, and discusses the fraught nature of their re-emergence in the twentieth century.
For images, transcripts, and more, visit
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Buy the book A Maya Universe in Stone here:
Peter Paul Rubens and the Arts of Antiquity
"I think it just shows very well how Rubens worked, how he got the inspiration from antiquity, but he transforms it into something completely new and very alive."
The Flemish Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens is most famous for his dynamic, colorful renderings of religious scenes and mythological stories. Yet Rubens’s work was also deeply inspired by the art of the past. He was a keen student of classical antiquity, engaging with ancient sculptures, coins, gems, and cameos both at home and in his travels through Italy. His friendships with antiquarians, patrons, and scholars provided a network for vibrant intellectual exchanges that informed the artist’s work.
In this episode, Getty curators Anne T. Woollett, Davide Gasparotto, and Jeffrey Spier discuss their exhibition Rubens: Picturing Antiquity, which explores how Rubens was affected by and, in turn, transformed the classical past in his paintings, drawings, and designs. The exhibition, which received major support from Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder and generous support from the Leonetti/O’Connell Family Foundation, is on view at the Getty Villa through January 24, 2022.
For images, transcripts, and more, visit https://blogs.getty.edu/iris/podcast-peter-paul-rubens-and-the-arts-of-antiquity or http://www.getty.edu/podcasts/
More to explore:
Explore the exhibition Rubens: Picturing Antiquity here: https://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/rubens_antiquity/explore.html
Buy the book Rubens: Picturing Antiquity here: https://shop.getty.edu/products/rubens-picturing-antiquity-978-1606066706
Conserving Bagan in a Time of Uncertainty
“Bagan is actually a splendid site. You can imagine in only in this, like, fifty square kilometers, they have more than 3,000 monuments. And then all the monuments have different styles and different architecture.”
The ancient past of Bagan, Myanmar, is still visible today in the more than 3,000 temples, monasteries, and works of art and architecture that remain at the site. Beginning around 1000 CE, Bagan served as the capital city of the Pagan Kingdom. Many of the surviving monuments date from the 11th to 13th centuries. A number of these temples are still used by worshippers and pilgrims today. A 2016 earthquake, which damaged over 400 structures, brought renewed international attention to Bagan and its future.
In February 2020, a team from the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) returned from doing intensive preparatory work with international and local colleagues in Bagan to launch a long-term conservation project there. Soon after, the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 closed borders and halted travel. In February 2021, a coup d’état staged by the Burmese Military plunged the country into further uncertainty.
In this episode, Susan Macdonald, head of Buildings and Sites at the GCI, and Ohnmar Myo, the GCI’s consultant in Myanmar, discuss the history of Bagan, the demands and challenges of conservation there, and their hopes for the future of the site. Myo is a former project officer of the Cultural Unit, UNESCO, and was a principal preparator of the report that confirmed Bagan’s World Heritage Site status in 2019. This conversation was recorded in January 2021, under very different circumstances, but it captures the curiosity, ambitions, optimism, and collaborative spirit that guided the project at that time.
To learn more about the Getty Conservation Institute’s Bagan Conservation Project, visit https://www.getty.edu/conservation/our_projects/field_projects/bagan/index.html
To read more about Bagan, visit http://blogs.getty.edu/iris/bagan-getty-partners-conserve-ancient-site/
Inside LA’s Most Iconic Modernist Home, Case Study House #22
"Buck wanted to stand in every room from his house, turn his head, and see every view. Even the bathroom. And so that was kind of what inspired the design of the house."
Among the most famous photographs of modern architecture is Julius Shulman’s picture of Case Study House #22, also known as the Stahl House after the family that commissioned it. Two girls in white dresses sit inside a glass cube that seems to float atop a cliff over the illuminated grid of Los Angeles at night. Built by a family with a “beer budget and champagne tastes,” the two-bedroom home designed by architect Pierre Koenig changed residential design in LA. While Shulman’s image and others of the building have appeared in countless publications, advertisements, films, and TV shows, the story of how the house came to be and what it was like to live there is less well known.
In this episode, Bruce Stahl and Shari Stahl Gronwald and writer Kim Cross discuss the story of how Case Study House #22 came to be and share personal stories about what it was like to grow up and live in the home, from roller skating across the concrete floors to diving off the roof into the pool. Stahl, Gronwald, and Cross are co-authors of the recent book The Stahl House: Case Study House #22; The Making of a Modernist Icon.
To buy the book The Stahl House: Case Study House #22; The Making of a Modernist Icon, visit https://shop.getty.edu/products/the-stahl-house-case-study-house-22-the-making-of-a-modernist-icon
Hans Holbein the Younger’s Captivating Portraits
“Holbein was able to combine his ability to create a very believable likeness with these strong design sensibilities, and also an ingenuity, a cleverness, a creativity to create individual portraits of specificity and complexity.”
Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/98–1543) depicted some of the most important thinkers and politicians of his day in beautiful, highly individualized portraits. In Basel, he socialized with and painted humanists such as Desiderius Erasmus and Bonifacius Amerbach. In London, he captured nobles and high-ranking officials like Thomas Cromwell and Thomas More. He even became court painter to King Henry VIII in 1536. Holbein also painted many noblewomen, a somewhat unusual practice at the time, paying particular attention to their style of dress.
In this episode, Getty paintings curator Anne Woollett discusses the exhibition Holbein: Capturing Character in the Renaissance, the first large-scale presentation of Holbein’s work in the United States. Woollett highlights key works in the exhibition, placing them in the context of Holbein’s milieu and career. The exhibition is on view at the Getty Center through January 9, 2022 before traveling to the Morgan Library & Museum, New York, in February 2022.
To buy the book Holbein: Capturing Character, visit https://shop.getty.edu/products/holbein-capturing-character-978-1606067475
To explore the exhibition Holbein: Capturing Character in the Renaissance, visit https://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/holbein/index.html
The Trailblazing Career of Spanish Baroque Sculptor Luisa Roldán
“She was not afraid. She wasn’t daunted. I think that’s one of the key differentiators about her and her career.”
Sculptor Luisa Roldán (1652–1706) followed a rare path for women in 17th-century Spain. Like other female artists, she trained and worked in the studio of a male family member, in this case her father. After marrying at 19, she established herself as an independent artist. This set her apart from most other women of her day, who stopped making art when they started families of their own. Roldán, working alongside her husband and brother-in-law, specialized in large painted wooden sculptures, terracotta groups, and reliefs. Overcoming societal limitations, Roldán took risks, worked for the Spanish kings, and was widely recognized as an accomplished artist during her lifetime.
In this episode, author Catherine Hall-van den Elsen discusses her new book Luisa Roldán, the first in the new Getty Publications series Illuminating Women Artists. Hall-van den Elsen explores Roldán’s personal challenges, career trajectory, and her most penetrating Baroque works, placing them in their historical context.
To buy the book Luisa Roldán, visit https://shop.getty.edu/products/luisa-roldan-978-160606732
To learn more about the Getty Museum's Roldán, visit https://www.getty.edu/art/collection/artists/3441/luisa-roldan-called-la-roldana-spanish-1652-1706/
To hear more about the Getty Museum's Roldán, visit https://blogs.getty.edu/iris/reflections-maite-alvarez-on-luisa-roldan/