ART REVIEW: “Modern Antiquity: Picasso, de Chirico, Léger, and Picabia in the Presence of the Antique”-Getty Villa

A few weeks ago my editor, my CFO, and my mascot accompanied me to the Getty Villa to see the exhibit “Modern Antiquity”, which I previously read about in school. We also viewed some of the museum’s excellent permanent collection of Greek and Roman antiquities. The exhibit, which was an interesting juxtaposition of the very modern and the very ancient, all of which was placed just a room away from ancient portraits, focused on how ancient art influenced some of the most prominent modern painters. In this sense, the whole upper floor of the main building was the exhibit.


The four artists (Pablo Picasso, Giorgio de Chirico, Fernand Léger, and Francis Picabia) featured in the exhibit were inspired by the subject matter of antique art and offered their own interpretations of the myths and stories portrayed in ancient art. The exhibit was well presented and put together. Only at the Getty Villa can you see a Picasso sketch of a Greek male nude, or kouros, with the statute that may well have inspired him just a few feet away. My editor and I especially enjoyed the Picabia transparencies, such as the one pictured above, which are vibrant colorful overlapping narratives and figures. The works’ bold use of line led the eye around the various forms as they bled into one another. Also notable were de Chirico’s surrealist lithographs that portrayed the same reclining sculptures that were displayed nearby, and his eerie paintings of blank-faced, oddly proportioned gladiators, as well as Léger’s smooth, metallic nudes against a bold monochromatic ground. For an interesting look into some of the most famous modern artists’ inspirations, visit the exhibit soon!

The Getty Villa also has an excellent collection of Greek and Roman portraiture and sculptures, and its overall layout as a reproduction of a classic Roman villa, complete with reflecting pools and spice garden, make visiting the Getty Villa a wonderful experience for the art lover, history lover, and for the family.


  1. Nice review. I agree that the highlight of the exhibit were the Picabia transparencies. Also, I hadn't been to the Getty Villa in MANY years and I hope your review sends more people there to enjoy the art, history, and beauty of the setting.

  2. Haha, CFO. Thanks for the giggles and the review! I didn't know they had this exhibit at the Villa.

  3. Excellent description. Tell your CFO to keep funding. First time at Getty villa. Compares favorably to the uffizzi and the chicago Art inst.

  4. I wish I had been there with the editor, CFO and mascot. Cheers from Adelaide.


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