Ever present Never twice the sameRobert Irwin
Ever changing Never less than whole
A walk through the Gardens of The J. Paul Getty Center in Los Angeles can end or begin by stepping over a poem engraved in stone on the ground which is composed by the artist who designed the garden. It seems strange that a complex of buildings so perfectly rendered in white granite can bring such a heightened feeling of fluidity to the observer; solid and immovable granite and the flowing quality of water have been captured seamlessly.
There is an ‘oh, how could any one human mind and persistence possibly achieve the rendering of these structures in reality?’ The whole centre rises majestically above the steel-like City of Angels (as if angels where automobiles?). And the shared openness of the Getty stands in paradox with the ever meandering ‘me-ness’ that epitomises that city. But both are humbled and surrounded by all the open and unforgiving beauty of sea and mountain.
the purposefulness of the poem on the garden’s grounds completes the purpose of this place in a very special sense
Once I found the poem, I realised on subsequent visits how easy it was to miss, since it can be hidden by the dust and gravel that surrounds the garden beds. I don’t know, but I can only imagine how the visiting spirit of Mr. Getty (who died in 1976) would have felt about the perfection that is designed to house the collections. To my mind, this place is one of the most peaceful places in Los Angeles and will take more than a single visit to fully take in. Paradoxes abound! The question is, should it take monies from a petroleum empire to ‘create’ this type of public space? I can’t but feel a sense ‘redeemed through philanthropy’ from the Getty Family’s consciousness as I view the collections. But, I have visited and been enriched by the place and its objects many times.
To my ears, the purposefulness of the poem on the garden’s grounds completes the purpose of this place in a very special sense. It is as if a grand undertaking of this type could only be balanced by silence and simplicity.
Here is a quick tour of the world famous gardens.