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Getty Center Tour: The Art of Alchemy Exhibit

artofalchemy

Alchemists revealing secrets from the Book of Seven Seals. Detail from The Ripley Scroll, ca. 1700. (Manly Palmer Hall collection of alchemical manuscripts, circa 1500-1825. Getty Research Institute)

 

9:00 am-1:00 pm  sunday, october 9

David Brafman, Rhiannon Knol, and Marcia Reed welcomed our group to the Getty Research Institute. We split into two groups, one following David into the GRI’s gallery, the other into the GRI’s conference room to view about a dozen artists’ books to which Marcia referred in her plenary talk relating to the conference theme. The exhibition wasn’t yet open to the public, so this was a sneak peek of the Art of Alchemy. Organized into thematic groupings between two galleries, the first gallery contained books, prints, paintings, manuscripts, sculptures, glassware and vessels that inspired and depicted the many historical beliefs and practices of the alchemist. Descriptive text helps guide the visitor through the pre-history of alchemy and its early practice from Egyptian and Greek philosophies and craft techniques; the unveiling of geometric secrets, chemistry and mineralogy, the fetish of the scientific apparatus, elixirs and magic medicine. The second gallery focused on industrial alchemy – mining for minerals and natural resources, the use of chemicals (usually toxic) to create colors and dyes, and electrical devices and technology. The curators did a wonderful job of organizing items from the Manly P. Hall collection into groupings and themes that help us understand how the mysteries of these esoteric beliefs evolved into accepted scientific practices and advances, medical improvements, and, as David says, “better living through alchemy.”

The Art of Alchemy
October 11, 2016-February 12, 2017
The Getty Research Institute