ARTS and CULTURE Music/Opera/Theatre/Ballet


Written by Aksel Ritenis



The J. Paul Getty Trust will bestow its highest honor The J. Paul Getty Medal to musician Yo-Yo Ma and, posthumously, to artist Ellsworth Kelly.


Maria Hummer-Tuttle, chair of the J. Paul Getty Board of Trustees, said: “With this Medal we honor two of our nation’s greatest artists: Yo-Yo Ma for his distinguished contributions to the conservation and understand of the world’s many and diverse cultures, and Ellsworth Kelly for his mastery in paintings and sculptures of the highest quality and originality.” The award will be presented at a celebratory dinner at the Getty Center on October 17th.


The J. Paul Getty Medal was established in 2013 by the Board of Trustees to honor extraordinary contributions to the practice, understanding and support of the arts.

Previous recipients include the architect Frank Gehry, British investment banker and arts leader Lord Jacob Rothschild, and Harold and Nancy Williams for their leadership in creating The Getty, a global leader in art history, conservation, and museum practice.


Yo-Yo Ma has an accomplished career as a cellist.  Sixteen years ago, he founded the Silk Road Ensemble and the nonprofit Silkroad to promote the creation of new music, cross cultural partnerships, education programs, and cross-disciplinary collaborations to create meaningful change at the intersection of arts, education, and business. The Ensemble musicians represent 20 different cultures.

“In an election year focused on erecting walls and challenging immigrants,” Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble are aiming, through their music, to build bridges and greater trust among cultures.”

  The Ensemble is part of a summer residency at the Getty and has performed pop-up musical moments across the Getty Center inspired by the groundbreaking exhibition “Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road.”

On August 24th at 7:30 p.m. in the J. Paul Getty Courtyard at the Getty Center, the Ensemble will perform an original musical score to accompany an outdoor screening of “Cave of the Silken Web” a 1927 silent film by Chinese director Dan Duyu.

The film was lost until 2011, when it was rediscovered and preserved by the National Museum of Norway.  It is one of the first screen adaptations of one of the most enduring classics of Chinese literature “Journey to the West,” that follows a pious monk and his three disciples on a journey along the Silk Road – a fitting backdrop for the exploration of the arts as a means of global connectivity.

“The Getty shares Yo-Yo’s commitment to artistic excellence and cross-cultural understanding,” said James Cuno, president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust.

“Our work around the world is inspired by the same values as those of Silkroad, that the best prospects of the future rest on a greater understanding of the interrelationship of the world’s many cultures.”


“It is a great honor to receive the J. Paul Getty Medal, and to have this very special recognition of the importance of cross-cultural engagement, “said Ma. 

“Culture and communications are the keys to our work at Silkroad, and in celebrating both tradition and innovation, as the Getty has so successfully done, we are building bridges and creating trust.”


 Ellsworth Kelly will be remembered for the vitality of his art.

“Ellsworth saw beauty in everything.  He was more visually alive than anyone I know.  Every new work was a new adventure for him, a new way of working and making things of extraordinary visual delight, “said Cuno.

“Maria Hummer-Tuttle and I were set to meet with him just days before he died.  He knew of the Getty’s honor and expressed pleasure and pride in receiving it.” 

“Ellsworth continued to make new work right up until the end of his life; that was always most important to him,” said Jack Shear, president of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation. “And, while he preferred the studio to the spotlight, he was truly honored to be chosen as the recipient for the J. Paul Getty Medal.”

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. 

The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades. 

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Aksel Ritenis

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