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Liquid crystal souls (detail), Ernst Haeckel, 1917. Frontispiece from Ernst Haeckel, Kristallseelen (Crystal Souls) (Leipzig, 1917). Private collection, Los Angeles


  Liquid crystal souls, Ernst Haeckel, 1917. Frontispiece from Ernst Haeckel, Kristallseelen (Crystal Souls) (Leipzig, 1917). Private collection, Los Angeles

The Art of Alchemy

Through February 12, 2017 | The Getty Center
Liquid crystals—now ubiquitously used in the touch-screen technology of phone and tablet displays—were seen as the link between inanimate matter and life by some scientists and alchemists around the turn of the 20th century. A crystal's growth, which appeared to initiate organically from within the crystal itself, led scientific illustrator Ernst Haeckel to believe that there is a "soul force" that unifies and animates all physical matter. Haeckel's microscopic illustrations of crystalline formations, which are now on display as part of The Art of Alchemy, became a source of inspiration for artists of the art nouveau movement.

Gallery tours are offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2:00 p.m. in January.

Find out more about the exhibition.


  Alchemists "imbibing" (infusing substance with spirit), detail from the Ripley Scroll, ca. 1700. The Getty Research Institute, 950053

Art of Alchemy Lecture and Colloquium

January 18–19, 2017 | The Getty Center
Complementing the exhibition The Art of Alchemy, this colloquium and its opening lecture, "Chemical Rainbows and Liquid Crystal Souls: The Spirit of Alchemy in the History of Art," explore the mysterious practices and visual impact of alchemy from antiquity through the industrial age. In the opening lecture, Associate Curator David Brafman focuses on alchemy and its lasting impact on art—from the development of paint colors and glazing techniques to its use in metalwork and glass—as well as its applications in the modern world, including photography and the liquid crystal displays of the digital age.

Reserve a free ticket.


Provenance: Exposing the Spoils of War

Lecture and Book Signing | January 25, 2017
7:00 p.m. | The Getty Center
In The Orpheus Clock: The Search for My Family's Art Treasures Stolen by the Nazis (2015), author Simon Goodman narrates the true story of his family's history—a glimpse of Jewish life in Germany before the Holocaust—with an exposé of the Nazi looting machine during World War II through the painstaking study of provenance, much of which was performed through the Getty Provenance Index® databases and GRI archival collections. Goodman's quest led to the recovery of hundreds of his family's possessions (the first settlement of a Nazi looting case in the United States), and helped change international policy regarding art restitution. This lecture will highlight the many advantages of researching in the digital age, compared to the inaccessibility of the art world immediately following the war.

Reserve a free ticket.



Explodity: Sound, Image, and Word in Russian Futurist Book Art

Nancy Perloff
Unique in their fusion of the verbal, visual, and sonic, Russian artists' books made between 1910 and 1915 encourage readers to look at, listen to, and read the poetry within. Part of the futurist movement, these books grew out of collaborations between painters and poets who utilized a newly invented sonic language called zaum (a neologism meaning "beyond the mind"), which rejects logical meaning. GRI Curator Nancy Perloff conducts close readings of two of the most significant and experimental futurist books, Mirskontsa (Worldbackwards) and Vzorvalâ (Explodity). She also uncovers a wide-ranging legacy in the midcentury global movement of sound and concrete poetry, Western conceptual art, and the artist's book.

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  Three acrobatic cyclists, ca. 1890. The Getty Research Institute, 2014.R.4

Portraits of Performers

Finding Aid
Offering a glimpse into the heyday of European music hall shows and American vaudeville and burlesque (ca. 1870–1930s), the 385 portraits in this collection depict performers from ventriloquists to acrobats, aerialists, riders, and strongmen and strongwomen. Many of the pictured sitters were household names in their time—such as monologist Frank Fogerty, the "Dublin Mistrel," who won the New York Morning Telegraph's contest for most popular vaudeville actor in 1912—however, their faces and acts are scarcely remembered today.

Browse the finding aid.


ASCENT: A Film by Fiona Tan

Film Screening and Conversation | January 10, 2017 | 7:00 p.m. | The Getty Center


Facebook Live: Russian Futurist Book Art with Curator Nancy Perloff

Live Q&A on the GRI Facebook Page | January 24, 2017 | 9:00–9:15 a.m. PST | Online Only


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