When we visited the Getty Villa, I was particularly drawn to the Cycladic exhibition of figures and pottery, not only for their artistic merit but also for their age and impact on the Mediterranean world. The Cyclades are an island chain between Greece and Turkey and north of Crete. Along with the Minoans and Mycenaeans, the Cycladic people are counted among the three major Aegean cultures. Cycladic Sculpture therefore comprises one of the three main branches of Aegean art. The first archaeological excavations of the 1880s were followed by systematic work by the British School at Athens and by Christos Tsountas, who investigated burial sites on several islands in 1898-99 and coined the term “Cycladic Civilization”. Interest then lagged, but picked up in the mid-20th century, as collectors competed for the modern-looking figures that seemed so similar to sculpture by Jean Arp or Constantin Brâncuși. Sites were looted and a brisk trade in forgeries arose. The context for many of these Cycladic Figurines has thus been mostly destroyed; their meaning may never be completely understood. What is known is that they were often painted, possibly used as idols and were often included in grave goods. They date to the second and third millennia BCE (3300-2000 BCE), end of the Neolithic and beginning of the Bronze Age.
We ran into the Pompidou Center when we went to the Hotel de Ville for some supplies. Located in the district of Beaubourg on Paris' Right Bank, the Centre George Pompidou (or more simply, the Pompidou Center) is a factory-style structure that cuts a sharp contrast with the older, traditional buildings that surround it. It houses the Bibliothèque publique d'information, a vast public library, the Musée National d'Art Moderne which is the largest museum for modern art in Europe, and IRCAM, a centre for music and acoustic research. Because of its location, the Centre is known locally as Beaubourg. It is named after Georges Pompidou, the President of France from 1969 to 1974 who approved its creation (it was actually proposed by Charles DeGaulle), and was officially opened in 1977 by President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. The Centre Pompidou has had over 150 million visitors since 1977.