The Getty Villa Museum was built by eccentric billionaire J. Paul Getty as a faux-Roman villa on a Malibu cliff top in California and opened in 1974. Critics at the time labeled it a vulgar folly and condemned it as a tasteless Disneyesque fantasy for its incorrect recreation of a Roman villa. However, the public flocked to it anyway and it remained a popular attraction for many years.
The Getty Villa quietly closed in 1997 when its much larger neighbor the Getty Center, by modernist architect Richard Meier, opened. Desiring to enhance the stature and profile of the original Getty Villa, a building committee formed to explore a new vision for the museum through renovation and additions. As part of this process a field of high profile architects was invited to a design competition with a unique format.
From a list of 24 architect candidates, six finalists were each given a modest 11" x 14" bound artist's sketchbook. The sketchbooks were to be returned in 2 weeks and one architect would be given the commission based on the contents alone. By avoiding the formal requirement for a final design, the Getty Building Committee freed itself to seek a clear demonstration of creativity from the participating architects. The winning sketchbook was submitted by Machado & Silvetti Architects. Among the other five participating architects were, the late Frank Israel and Portuguese native Alvaro Siza-Vieira.
Presented at the Fort Worth Center for Architecture, the traveling exhibit “The Getty Sketches” showcases the six original sketchbooks. Formatted on large wall hung metal panels, reproductions of about 200 hand sketches and drawings from the original books in the Getty Archives make up the bulk of the exhibit. In the current age of the computer, developing architecture purely by hand has mostly become a lost art. As such, the focus on sketching becomes the unique aspect of this exhibit.
“The Getty Sketches” opens on December 21, 2009 and runs through January 14, 2010. The Fort Worth Center for Architecture is open Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at 3425 West 7th St., Fort Worth, Texas 76107 just north of the Museum District. Call 817-334-0155 for additional information.