Below are the three most intriguing questions and answers in Tyler Green's interview with new uber-Getty boss, Jim Wood aka James Wood aka James N. Wood:
MAN: One of the issues that the Getty has faced for years is that the Meier in Brentwood and the Villa are physically disconnected from Los Angeles. The Getty has never felt like a part of the fabric of the city. I know you don’t have any Los Angeles ties, but is this something you’ve thought about and is it something that you need to address?
JW: It’s certainly something I’ve thought about. Specific answers… No, that would be presumptuous. But one of the attractions of coming here in the abstract sense is that there’s no question that Los Angeles and New York, in 30 different ways in my opinion, are the two most dynamic incubators of contemporary art and the visual arts and how they deal with the rest of the country. Another tremendous plus in my mind is that the visual arts institutions in this city are led by an absolutely terrific group of people that I’ve known for a long time.
Look at the institutions here. One of the things that quite excites me is that you’ve got the whole spectrum, from the Hammer, to MOCA; from historic moments in time, to institutions that do it all. How the Getty fits in -- I haven’t got the answer yet, but the dialogue that is possible is one that the Getty can learn a lot from.
Hopefully, this means he will consider bringing the rapidly growing photography collection off the hill and down into the urban fabric of Los Angeles. And since the Getty signed a covenant prohibiting the addition of even one single square foot of new space up on the hill - assuming I recall this correctly - and someone please correct me if I am wrong - then the Getty really has no choice but to do this.
And with MOCA seriously needing a large new buidling to accommodate its permanent collection - possibly there can be some kind of partnership on this project.
MAN: In recent years, in the Munitz years really, the Museum’s pace of acquisitions has slowed. You’ve written a great deal (most recently in Whose Muse?) about how important it is for museums to actively collect. Do you want the Museum to return to its previous acquisitive ways?
JW: I’m not going to get too specific because I need to know more about the priorities of the different collecting areas. Collecting is absolutely essential to the metabolism of an institution like this. And that’s not just collecting art, but collecting collections, and to go beyond that to collecting people. You need to keep growing.
The whole question is to focus on what’s going to be the most intelligent way to use the means this institution has to make Los Angeles more cosmopolitan. One of the very appealing things about the Getty to me is that its’ collecting opportunities are really quite open. We were not left with an iron-clad restriction, so the opportunity is there to make the most of changing times -- both in terms of the legality of acquisitions and in the cost and the importance of different cultures for both Los Angeles and the nation. I think one wants to remain very flexible here.
Yea! More art!! Finally!!!
MAN: Given that Los Angeles is one of the two big producers of contemporary art in the United States and one of the four biggest producers in the world (to say nothing of LA’s other creative industries), what should the Getty Trust’s relationship to contemporary art be?
JW: Contemporary art, contemporary culture is the water we swim in. The Getty needs to be very sensitive to that. Does that automatically mean we start competing with these other institutions in town that are collecting contemporary so brilliantly? I would argue not at all. I would say that the icons from St. Catherine’s is the kind of thing that is essential to have happen in a metropolitan area where young artists are figuring out how to express their own culture. Show me any great artist and usually they will say, ‘Here are the moments in the past I used to, in effect, learn how to deal with the present.’ History doesn’t have to be revoked from the contemporary. To me it’s quite the opposite.
Great answer! And with only the Getty having the resources or inclination to collect in its current fields - let the buying begin!
And the rest of the interview can be found at the above link to MAN.