joomla visitor

Plato in LA- A Must See Exhibit- at the Getty Villa

 Plato in L.A.

Contemporary Artists’ Visions

 April 18–September 3, 2018


Leticia Marie Sanchez

Plato would have had a field day with Los Angeles at this point in time. Even the term Virtual Reality has Platonic connotations. After all, Platonic Realism espouses the notion that the material world is only a poor copy of the real one. In his allegory of the caves, Plato described shadows which people assume are real, but are, in fact, mere imitations of the real world. What would Plato have thought of social media, with all its filters used to create a hyper-perfect reality? What is real, and what is a façade? Even the entertainment world in Los Angeles, and the dark underbelly that was exposed this year. Beyond the glossy images on the silver screen, the hair and makeup, the movie sets, sexual assaults had been swept under the rug in an attempt to maintain optical illusions peddled for public consumption. Caves and shadows exist in Los Angeles, and they are real.

Plato would have enjoyed Plato in LA: Contemporary Artists’ Visions, an innovative exhibit at the Getty Villa brilliantly curated by Donatien Grau. The exhibition includes work by artists Paul Chan, Rachel Harrison, Huang Yong Ping, Jeff Koons, Josephy Kosuth, Mike Kelley, Paul Mc Carthy, Whitney McVeigh, Raymond Pettibon, Adrian Piper, and Michelangelo Pistoletto.

There are many thought-provoking contemporary works in Plato in LA, and the show merits that you explore them all. CCH will highlight two of the many creative connections to Plato:

Jeff Koons’ “Play-Doh” is a showstopper.  The link to Plato goes beyond whimsical word play. Dr. Grau connected Koons’ work with Plato through the concept of democratization. There is really no more democratic art medium than Play-Doh (although it is technically made from Polychromed Aluminum). Although it is contemporary art, Koons revealed that the polyrchromed aluminum will endure for centuries, linking it with the enduring antiquities in the other galleries at the Getty Villa.




Jeff Koons. American, born 1955. Polychromed Aluminum. Object: H: 315 X W 386.7 X D: 348cm.

Collection of the artist. 

© Jeff Koons. VEX. 2018.1.9.



Another work not to be missed is Huang Yong Ping’s “Caverne 2009.” This work references Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. What makes it unforgettable is the allusion to the Taliban’s destruction of the largest Buddhist statues in the world. This powerful work leads us to the most Platonic of acts- contemplation- and reflection on how such destruction transpired and achieve a sense of healing through art itself. Platonic metaphysics leads us to ponder not only the world that is, but also the world that can be.  In today’s world, full of tragedy and violence, Plato and art, can guide us to envision better horizons.


Huang Yong Ping

French, born China, born 1954

Caverne, 2009, 2009

Resin cave, sculptures of buddhas and talibans, protected bat shadows

Object: H: 550X W: 350 X D: 290cm

Pinault Collection

Image Courtesy of the artists and kamel mennour. Paris. Photo: Marc Domage

© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris VEX. 2018.1.2


Posted by on April 16th, 2018

Leave a Reply