Power and Pathos: Great Expectations of a New Exhibit

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Introduction to exhibit

Well, this is a little awkward. Have you ever disliked an exhibit that everyone else liked? This past weekend I attended the Getty Centre’s new exhibition Power and Pathos. I should say that this was a ‘twitter made me do it’ activity, as I had seen many tweets about how wonderful and revolutionary the exhibition was. After visiting, I must say that I was not as impressed as I thought I was going to be- I felt a bit let down.

Based on this description of the exhibit and its contributors and sponsors, I am wondering how much of the hype was built upon these big budget names that were casually dropped. Maybe this is where the trouble started. Plus the name is very snappy- that alliteration gets me every time!

No photography was allowed in the exhibit (as is typical of all Getty temporary exhibitions), so folks leave your cameras at home. Even if photography had been allowed, poor lighting without a flash would have made for difficult shots of the statues.

As typical of most Getty exhibitions, the walls were freshly painted with the perfect tone of a complimentary color that makes the space vibrant, without detracting from the statues. The exhibition introductory sign that spanned an entire wall wowed me. I kept thinking, ‘Wow. That is one expensive graphic.’ The displays were nice, the spacing appropriate to accommodate audience flow.

I did not care for the fact that the introductory panels for the different rooms, each outlining a progression in artistic style for the sculptures, was on a wall behind you when you entered a new space. The majority of the visitors did not turn around to read the panels, which is a shame considering they were the only context for the exhibition. This is such a key point of an exhibition and how it teaches the visitors. Let’s be honest, these sculptures require interpretation, otherwise as stand alone pieces they are simply art pieces with no interpretation.

I found that the photos of the sculptures set up around the museum on banners and signs were more striking than the exhibition itself. The close up shots highlighted the individual features of the statues, such as the intense eyes or detailed hair. Purchasing the book for this exhibition would not be a waste of money.

If you are interested in these sculptures, please see the exhibition. Each piece can stand alone itself as a stunning piece of art. Please also remember to turn around and look for those panels! They are very well written, and the style suits the elegant and artistic feel of the statues. And if you have seen this exhibition and it left you wanting more, check out the Getty Villa which is exclusively devoted to Greek and Roman art!

Been to this exhibit? Please share your thoughts below!

Peace and long life.


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