NEW YORK—The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, which has enlarged its photography collection by nearly 10 percent over the past five years through donations and purchases, is currently expanding its exhibition and storage space for photographs in the institution’s West Pavilion.
The collection of photographs, which currently stands at approximately 31,000 works, will be given 7,000 square feet of display area, up substantially from the current 1,700 square feet. There also will be newly created climate-controlled storage facilities specifically designed to extend the longevity of color photographs—a newer area of collecting interest for the Getty.
The museum plans to fill some of this new space with more contemporary photography, particularly images “we think are key to our own soil,” such as works by southern California artists, says curator of photographs Weston Naef. “We are subject-driven,” he explains, “interested in such themes as the painter-photographer and the social documentary—and geographically focused.”
Naef notes a “wish list” of 200 photographers not represented in the collection, including several who are recently deceased, such as Bruce Bernard, Helmut Newton and Gordon Parks.
At present the Getty’s photography galleries are able to display only one small or medium-size exhibition at a time, says Naef: In the expanded space “we will be able to show a medium-size exhibition and from 150 to 200 works from the permanent collection.”
The museum’s West Pavilion formerly was devoted to antiquities, which have been relocated to the Getty Villa in Malibu. A new entrance to the West Pavilion has been designed by architect Richard Meier.
The expanded photography wing will be inaugurated this October with an exhibition of more than 160 images donated to the museum by Los Angeles collectors Bruce and Nancy Berman. Major donors to the Getty since 1998, the Bermans have given the museum nearly 500 photographs, including images by Americans Robert Adams, Adam Bartos, Jim Dow, William Eggleston, David Husom, Birney Imes, Dorothea Lange, William Larson, Nancy Lloyd, Danny Lyon, Irving Penn and Joel Sternfeld; Belgian Carl de Keyzer; German Wim Wenders; and Mexican Graciela Iturbide. In 2004 the Bermans were included in an ARTnews listing of the world’s top 25 photography collectors.