Notes and Notices

On art, architecture and design


The Getty Villa, an Italian country home in Malibu

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

After almost 3 years in Los Angeles, I finally found my way to Getty Villa in Malibu. Reality was a bit different from what I had imagined, but it's probably because I didn't read up too much on the site.

Once parked, entry to the Villa isn't as straightforward as taking the tram at the Getty Center. One walks up flights of stairs, which mimics an archeological dig site so the introductory video tells me. It turns out the Villa was modeled after the Villa of the Papyri, a Roman country home that was covered in ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted. The rather convoluted entry was an architectural solution to the problem of the Getty Villa being on a narrow cliff site.

The Getty Villa museum
At the museum proper, the grounds are undeniably ornate. Textures, colors and patterns are everywhere. Interior designers, I imagine, would be lost in the generous amount of detail suddenly open to them from the frescoes on the ceiling to the tilework on the floor.

Columns of color
A fountain mosaic at the garden

Even the floor tile by the fountain had patterns
Sadly, there really wasn't a place to sit and picnic in the grass at the Villa. The only picnic grounds faced a parking area. Granted, the parking was still filled with trees, but it wouldn't compare to simply gazing out in the ocean.

The inner peristyle was a mini version of the grand outer peristyle, which looks out to the ocean.
What it lacked in casual seating and picnic areas, it made up for well-manicured peristyles. Long rows of columns punctuated meticulously maintained gardens reaching out to the Pacific Ocean. It was a warm day in Malibu, but the Villa caught so much of the sea breeze at the outer peristyle. Given the choice, this is where I'd sit and hang for a while.


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