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Tours at the Getty Villa will be in Italiano, thanks to peace with Italy

October 12, 2009 |  7:00 am

ChimaeraArezzo Almost everyone, regardless of heritage, knows a few expletives in Italian.

While Culture Monster doesn't pretend to know which, if any, were in the air from 2005 to 2007 in the J. Paul Getty Trust's executive suite, it's not unreasonable to speculate that something stronger than "Mamma Mia!" was on minds or tongues while the Italian government beat our local multibillion-dollar arts institution with a public relations bastone and fed it a steady helping of agita.

When the authorities in Rome weren't indicting the Getty's antiquities curator, Marion True, and putting her on trial for allegedly conspiring to spirit looted ancient art out of Italy, they were issuing demands and ultimatums for the return of Getty-held artifacts the Italian Ministry of Culture had branded as plundered goods.

Finally, in the summer of 2007, the Getty capitulated, ending the siege of Brentwood by rendering unto the heirs of Caesar 39 artworks that the trust had spent $40 million to acquire. 

But the Italians had offered a carota along with the bastone -- a promise to provide loans of stunning ancient art to ease the pain of parting with all that treasure. And now the Getty is enjoying the first fruits of its Pax Italiana, among them the Chimaera of Arezzo, a famous, 2,400-year-old Etruscan bronze statue of a fearsome mythical beast that's part-serpent, part-goat, mostly lion and all masterpiece.

So it's in comity, rather than chagrin, that Italian phrases will ring forth soon in the galleries of the Getty Villa near Malibu. In honor of Italian Language Week, which begins Oct. 19, hourlong tours of the exhibition featuring the Chimaera will be given in Italian at 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 21, 22 and 25.

You can find out more about the Chimaera on the Getty's website -- in English or Italiano, take your pick.

Amicizia -- isn't it wonderful?

-- Mike Boehm

Related stories:

Art review: The Chimaera of Arezzo at the Getty Villa

Getty Museum announces venture with Italian museum

Getty's accord removes shadows

The return of antiquities a blow to Getty

Photo: The Chimaera of Arezzo. Credit: Fernandoi Guerrini