Well, here’s one we didn’t see coming. After four years as director of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Michael Brand will step down at the end of this month. Brand had a year left on his contract and, notes the Getty Trust’s press release, “will be available to serve as a consultant through the end of the summer.” David Bomford, associate director for collections at the Getty Museum, will act as interim director while a search committee is scrambled.
Having been plunged into contemporary battles over questionably acquired antiquities when taking office in December 2005, Brand successfully resolved related disputes with Greece and Italy, forging so chummy a relationship with the latter nation that it sent over a dazzling Etruscan bronze that is now on view at the Getty Villa (reopened under Brand’s tenure). He also opened the Getty’s Center for Photographs and oversaw notable acquisitions, including works by Rubens, Gauguin, and of course, Irving Penn‘s glorious “Small Trades” photos, which are on view through Sunday at the Getty Center. Why the sudden departure? Brand isn’t saying much, except that he’s ready for a break and plans to remain in the director’s residence for the rest of the year.