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A headline ripped from Getty art

DO not be alarmed, Century City shoppers. That billboard that went up by the food court the other day -- “RAMPAGING PIG TRAMPLES MAN AS CAPED HERO DELIVERS DEATH BLOW!” -- is merely part of the J. Paul Getty Museum’s new ad campaign.

The idea is to remind us, in bold, upper-case fashion, that the Getty is a sensational sort of place “where art lives” -- not some oppressively quiet, stodgy museum space.

The campaign comes courtesy of the agency M&C; Saatchi LA, which teamed up with the Getty to unveil the first Century City panel July 28.

“We are planning on developing that into a campaign, so there will be further ads using that treatment,” says Mara Benjamin, the Getty’s assistant director of marketing and advertising. She expects further images and headlines to show up in print ads by late fall.

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Eventually, she says, the campaign may include more advertising outdoors and online, and the ads themselves may reach beyond the museum holdings to promote other programs at the Getty, such as its research or conservation efforts.

In the meantime, Benjamin says, to better acquaint the copywriters with what the Getty has and does, “we’re starting to set up meetings with curators.”

And no, the headlines will not cover the scandal-marred departures of Getty Trust President Barry Munitz (in February) and Getty Trust Chairman John Biggs (this month). Nor, of course, will they be covering artworks found in quieter, stodgier, less scandalous local museums. Thus, the following will be seen only in Arts Notes and not around town:

“CHUBBY NATIVE PEASANT GATHERS CALLA LILIES / TO PEDDLE FOR PROFIT; / CAPITALISM IS BLAMED” (“Flower Day” by Diego Rivera, 1925; Los Angeles County Museum of Art).

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“NATION SEETHING; / VISAGE CAST IN GARISH SILKSCREEN HUES; / CHINA CHAIRMAN RADIATES STEELY CALM” (“Mao Tse-Tung” by Andy Warhol, 1972; Museum of Contemporary Art).

“SWADDLED IN SILK, / HAND ON HIP, / INSOLENT YOUNG MAN / PLOTS PRIDE PARADE” (“Blue Boy” by Thomas Gainsborough, circa 1770; Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Gardens).

--Christopher Reynolds


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