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September 28, 2018

2018 Getty Medal Dinner

(L to R) James Cuno, Getty President and CEO, honoree Thelma Golden and Maria Hummer-Tuttle, Chair, Getty Board of Trustees.
Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging
Jwan Yosef (L) and actor Ricky Martin.
Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging
Danna Ruscha (L) and Ed Ruscha.
Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging
(L to R) Catherine Gund, honoree Agnes Gund and Sadie Rain Hope-Gund.
Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging
Artists Mark Bradford (L) and Lorna Simpson.
Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging
(L tor R) Mathew Hale and artists Cathrine Opie and Tacita Dean.
Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging
Lauren Halsey (L) and Monique McWilliams.
Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging
Honoree Thelma Golden (L) and Duro Olowu.
Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging

The great and the good of the art world gathered at The Getty Center to toast the three J. Paul Getty Medal recipients who have made serious waves in the art world. Literally speaking, in the artist Richard Serra’s case.  His undulating cast iron sculptures have risen up everywhere from SF MOMA to the Guggenheim Bilbao. “Richard Serra is the most important sculptor of our time,” Getty president and CEO James Cuno told an audience which included Ed Ruscha, Frank Gehry, Catherine Opie and Ricky Martin. Sadly the artist, who has been creating hulking works of rusted iron for 60 years, could not attend the event as he is battling cancer. But he received a rousing applause as Museum of Modern Art director Glenn Lowry accepted the award on his behalf.

The Studio Museum in Harlem director and chief curator Thelma Golden was awarded her medal by L.A. artist Mark Bradford, who regaled the crowd with how Thelma supported him in his early days as a struggling artist in a hilarious off-the-cuff speech praising her eye and instinct. Ms Golden has worked at the Studio Museum on and off for 30 years as well as serving on the board of directors for the Barack Obama Foundation and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. 

Philanthropist Agnes Gund received the third medal. She is president emerita of the Museum of Modern Art and chair of its International Council. In 1976 she joined the MoMA Board and served as president from 1991 until 2002. Last year Gund sold a 1962 Lichtenstein from her private collection called ‘Masterpiece’ for $165 million to set up the Art for Justice Fund, an organization dedicated to relieving mass incarceration in the United States. She sought permission from Lichtenstein’s widow Dorothy in advance the crowd learned, and the idea was met with total approval. “Aggie’s foundational gift to establish the Art for Justice Fund reflects her lifelong commitment to the belief that art has the power to change people’s lives, from their earliest experiences to their most advanced ones,” said Cuno. She was joined at the event by her daughter and grand daughter.

“All three of this year’s awardees have challenged the status quo. They have done this by showing how art gives shape to cultural change, by funding and implementing programs to bring the arts to the underserved, by changing traditional beliefs about art forms, and by focusing on artists as catalysts,” summed up Maria Hummer-Tuttle, chair of the Getty Board of Trustees, as guests enjoyed burrata with figs and peaches.

The Getty Medal is the Getty’s highest honor, given once a year to recognize extraordinary achievement in the fields of museology, art historical research, conservation science, and philanthropy, the founding interests of the J. Paul Getty Trust.

Written by Phoebe Doheny.


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