The Dreyfuss Affair, Getty Villa I

Or is it Joaquin Phoenix?A day at the Getty Villa left us all exhausted. Too exhausted to tell you of the artificii mirabile.

The Getty Villa is sort of a museum showcasing the Roman, Grecian and Etruscan whatnots that J. Paul Getty scooped up while he yet had breath. The hillside campus, like its mothership, The Getty Museum, deserves a better name than mere “museum.” For one thing, it comprises a number of buildings and gardens, “peristyles” and an amphitheater suitable for a production of Menaechmi. For another, it’s built after the fashion of an old Roman villa — open spaces, hypaethral (heh) ceilings, colonnades, pergolas. Not imposing classical like so many 20th century museums, but everyday classical — more homelike, at least if the home belonged to Croesus.

So much to see and marvel at, and I don’t mean just the busts, figures, masks, mosaics, votive figurines, coins, jewelry, frescos and bronzes — the architectural detail is worth repeat trips all by itself. Just look at these unusual capitals:

Ironic Ionic?

To what order does that column belong —  the Neo-Doric? Pandemic? Paregoric? Rich Corinthian? Can’t recall. Grade school history lessons seem more ancient than their subjects.

Mostly I was hunting for the bust of Richard Dreyfuss that I saw in their promotional material. When I finally found it after hours of wandering and prepared to record the item photographically, the guard politely stayed my hand, informing me that since it was in a special exhibit — not part of the main collection — photography of the actor’s marble head was forbidden. So, in substitute, I took the picture of a sign featuring the face of Mr. Dreyfuss — you can see it at the top of this post.


The Getty Villa.
Pacific Palisades, California (part of Los Angeles, really)
On the Pacific Coast Highway just north of Sunset Blvd
Call first, or web it up, to get an entrance ticket.
The entrance ticket comes ABSOLUTELY FREE, but the parking is $10


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