GETTY VILLA: Art Break – Portraiture

Untitled, Ken Gonzales-Day, 2009. Photograph. (Portrait of a child, AD 150-200, Roman. Marble, J Paul Getty Museum). Courtesy of the artist and Luis de Jesus, Los Angeles

Friday, July 30, 2021, at 12 pm

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Ancient Roman portrait sculptures, often difficult to identify and understand today, sometimes tell us more about the museums displaying them than about the individuals depicted. Using photography, Los Angeles artist Ken Gonzales-Day explores Roman portraits with an interest in interpretation, personhood, and the dynamics of stereotypes. Focusing on the bust of a young child, Gonzales-Day and Getty antiquities curator Jens Daehner discuss the search for real people behind ancient portraits.

Jens Daehner has been a curator of ancient art at the Getty Museum since 2002. He organized several exhibitions exploring Hellenistic sculpture, the history of archaeology, and Roman imperial portraits, as well as the role of antiquity in 20th-century art. He is a widely published author and his book Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World (co-authored with Kenneth Lapatin) was awarded the London Hellenic Prize in 2015. Currently, he is preparing a collection catalog of Roman sculpture at the Getty, but also dedicates his time to mentorship, diversity and inclusion policies for the museum, and advocacy for the curatorial profession.

Ken Gonzales-Day’s interdisciplinary and conceptually grounded photographic projects consider the history of photography, the construction of race, and the limits of representational systems. Gonzales-Day has held fellowships at the Getty Research Center, The Terra Foundation in Giverny, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, and American Art Museum of the Smithsonian, among others. In 2017, Gonzales-Day received a Guggenheim Fellowship in Photography and currently holds the Fletcher Jones Chair in Art at Scripps College. In 2018, he was the subject of a two-person exhibition at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

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