Antique Muses Stir a Modern Orpheus

Posted on October 19th, 2008 by

Brought to you by Los Angeles via the New York Times:

WITH its grand marble staircase, inner and outer peristyles and Roman gardens, the Getty Villa in Los Angeles seems a fitting backdrop for a small army of Greek gods, Roman warriors and Etruscan vases. But in two weeks visitors to the villa, which houses the antiquities collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, will encounter a sculpture from a very different time and place.

With a nod to classical themes, the sculpture represents the head of a poet. But this particular head — a bald one with a scratchy beard and deeply creased brow — looms large at seven feet tall. It is made out of white plaster instead of clay or stone. It is modern in scale and feel.

And for many in the art world the monumental head is recognizable. It belongs to the American artist Jim Dine, who for the last 50 years has made his name as a highly successful painter, printmaker and sculptor while more quietly (and less lucratively) honing his skills as a poet.

The self-portrait will be the centerpiece of an installation called “Jim Dine: Poet Singing (The Flowering Sheets)” that opens at the villa on Oct. 30. Mr. Dine has also written out a poem in charcoal on the gallery’s white walls and recorded it on a soundtrack that will play on a loop in the gallery.


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