Opening on December 14 at the institution’s Getty Center location, “Acquisitions 2021: Collecting for the Museum” will feature works spanning the Getty’s six collecting categories of painting, drawing, photography, antiquities, decorative arts, and manuscripts.
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Visitors to the exhibition will find a greater push toward diversity in the museum’s acquisition strategy than ever before. In a statement, the museum’s director Timothy Potts said, “This year reflects several recent collection-building initiatives of the Getty Museum, including exploring the wider connections of the classical world with other cultures, seeking to represent women artists in all media, telling a more inclusive history of European art, and bringing greater diversity to our holdings of modern and contemporary photographs.”
Among the highlights that will go on view next week are 16th-century artist Artemisia Gentileschi’s Lucretia (ca. 1627), a rediscovered painting that the Getty paid $5.3 million for a January auction in Paris. The work depicts the moment before ancient Roman heroine Lucretia dies by suicide after she is raped, and connects to Gentileschi’s own lived experiences. In 1611, at age 17, painter Agostino Tassi raped her, which was the subject of a highly publicized trial the following year in which Gentileschi recounted the details of the assault in detail, which being tortured—an order from the judge to verify the veracity of her testimony.
Another image, which scholars similarly consider radical for its time, is a pastel drawing of a woman nursing her infant child titled Portrait of Madame Charles Mitoire with Her Children (1783) by 18th century French artist Adélaïde Labille-Guiard.
Also included in the exhibition are the museum’s recent purchases in contemporary art, including a photographic self-portrait photograph, Summer Azure (2020), by Brooklyn-based artist, filmmaker, and activist Tourmaline. In the image, the artist dons an astronaut’s helmet as she floats in the air over a cornfield. The piece is part of a larger body of work that mines the history of Black-owned public gardens in Manhattan that served as places of respite for Black people during the early 19th-century.
In his statement, Potts said, “Our collection is young and still growing, but with each new purchase we consider the many ways the Museum can expand the reach and impact of art we hold in public trust.”