Sculptures find home at Getty

Jessyca Dewey

With the rolling Santa Monica Mountains on one side and the spectacular Los Angeles skyline on the other, the Fran and Ray Stark sculpture collection has at last found its home among the gardens and terraces of the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Donated by the legendary late film producer, Ray Stark, and his wife Fran, the collection of 28 modern and contemporary sculptures is now permanently on display throughout the campus of the Getty Center. Ray Stark, best known for films such as “Funny Girl,” and “Steel Magnolias,” has now left behind yet another legacy.

The sculptures are located in two newly named outdoor spaces: The Fran and Ray Stark Sculpture Garden, and The Fran and Ray Stark Sculpture Terrace. Each piece has been skillfully installed in its surroundings, providing a marvelous backdrop of complements and contrasts for every sculpture.

The Fran and Ray Stark Sculpture Garden, located at the tram departure area near the entrance of the campus, was formerly a grass lawn area upon which the Getty staff members used to play an annual game of volleyball, according to exhibition design manager Merritt Price.

Now colored with purples and greens of all varieties, the space has been transformed into a tranquil outdoor garden featuring pieces such as Henry Moore’s “Bronze Form” and William Turnbull’s “Large Metamorphic Venus” Standing in a prominent location at the front of the garden, the “Bronze Form” sits centered in a water feature, providing a perfect balance between the fiery tones of the patina and the cool appeal of a steady stream.

Another prominent piece in the garden is that of Henry Moore’s “Reclining Mother and Baby” which is set against the backdrop of rolling hills and green trees. With soft, rounded forms echoed by the hills behind it, both the sculpture and its setting evoke the essence of maternity in a protective form.

The Fran and Ray Stark Sculpture Terrace, near the West Pavilion, has a definite sense of femininity, with Henry Moore’s “Seated Women” featured at the center.

The project has been under development since November 2004, according to Antonia Bostrom, curator of sculpture and decorative arts for the Getty.

Previously, the 28 sculptures now at the Getty were displayed throughout the Stark residences in Los Angeles and the Saint Ynez Valley, according to Bostrom. The Ray Stark Revocable Trust donated the sculptures with the stipulation that all pieces be made accessible to the public. For many pieces, this has been a major factor in deciding where the sculptures were to be placed.

Taking into consideration the importance of each placement, the Getty Center invested in mock-ups of the sculptures in order to fully contemplate every setting. With sculptures set in various locations apart from the garden and terrace, the museum has strategically placed works of art in places such as the front steps to the museum or on a cliff overlooking the city skyline, with the Pacific Ocean gracing the view beyond.

In several cases, the artists themselves were able to collaborate with the museum in order to install the sculptures in the most fitting of locations. Overall, the project involved the contributions of approximately 300 individuals, said Bostrom.

After more than two and a half years, the efforts and visions of all those involved finally have come to completion. With the series of outdoor spaces having opened to the public June 19, no longer will Ray Stark’s films be the sole art form that he left behind. Now because of the Starks’ generosity, each visitor to the Getty Center will have the privilege to experience many of the greatest sculptures from the 20th century.