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Van Gogh’s ‘Bedroom’ on Loan From the Art Institute of Chicago

December 09, 2016 - March 06, 2017


    Pasadena, CA—The Norton Simon Museum is delighted to present an installation of Vincent van Gogh’s tender and intimate Bedroom from 1889, a highlight of the Art Institute of Chicago’s superb 19th-century collection. A meditation on friendship, hope and crushing disappointment, Van Gogh’s Bedroom serves not only as a kind of self-portrait, but also as a symbol of the artist’s wandering existence and search for an elusive sense of repose. The second of three versions of the interior scene, the Chicago Bedroom was painted by the artist while at the asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France, in September 1889. Its installation at the Norton Simon Museum marks the first time the painting has been on view on the West Coast, and it will hang in the Museum’s 19th-century art wing, surrounded by the Simon’s own important collection of Van Gogh works, from Dec. 9, 2016 through March 6, 2017.

    In his brief life (just 37 years), Van Gogh sought a place to call home in four countries and 37 residences. In only one of these did he find something approaching contentment: his leased rooms at No. 2 Place Lamartine in Arles, the so-called “Yellow House,” where he dreamed of establishing a “Studio of the South.” He painted his bedroom in situ for the first time in autumn 1888 (a picture today in the Van Gogh Museum), having spent two days confined to his bed by a fit of exhaustion. In an Oct. 16 letter to his brother, Theo, he explained:

    I had a new idea in mind... This time it’s simply my bedroom, but the color has to do the job here, and through its being simplified by giving a grander style to things, to be suggestive here of rest or of sleep in general. In short, looking at the painting should rest the mind, or rather, the imagination. The walls are of a pale violet. The floor — is of red tiles. The bedstead and the chairs are fresh butter yellow…

    (16 October 1888. Van Gogh Museum, Vincent van Gogh: The Letters, No. 704).

    The artist’s specific interest here in the decoration of his home betrayed nervous excitement in anticipation of Paul Gauguin’s arrival the following week. Already Van Gogh’s friend, competitor and artistic idol, Gauguin was to be his collaborator at last, to live and work by his side in the Yellow House. The violet walls, the butter yellow chairs and bedstead, the selection of portraits on the wall in the bedroom: these were all carefully chosen with Gauguin’s future residence in the adjacent room in mind.

    The dream of a shared Studio of the South, however, proved short-lived, descending before the year was out into a nightmare, when Van Gogh experienced a nervous breakdown in late December and presented a severed portion of his own ear to a local prostitute. In and out of the hospital at Arles through the spring of 1889, Van Gogh admitted himself to the asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in early May. It was there, the following September, that he undertook the second and third versions of his Bedroom, today in the Art Institute of Chicago and the Musée d’Orsay, respectively. Both were adapted from the original canvas, which had sustained serious water damage in a flood at Arles. As he copied the damaged Bedroom in his asylum studio at Saint-Rémy, the hopeful moment that picture had once captured must have seemed to Van Gogh far away. Yet the second version—the Chicago picture—is, if anything, more startlingly vivid than its predecessor, its colors more vigorously contrasted, its surface more thickly covered in paint. Hoped for, lost, and longingly remembered, the peaceful scene here rematerializes with the intensity of a fever dream.

    Van Gogh’s ‘Bedroom’ on Loan From the Art Institute of Chicago is organized by Chief Curator Carol Togneri with Associate Curator Emily Beeny. The painting’s installation at the Norton Simon Museum comes shortly after the Art Institute’s revelatory exhibition “Van Gogh’s Bedrooms” (Feb. 14–May 10, 2016), which brought together all three versions of the interior and presented new research on the works. That exhibition’s curator, Gloria Groom, chair of European Painting and Sculpture and the David and Mary Winton Green Curator at the Art Institute of Chicago, will present a lecture on Van Gogh and his ‘Bedrooms’ at the Norton Simon on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, at 4 p.m. More details about other related events will be available later this year. 

    Image credit: Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853–1890), The Bedroom, 1889. The Art Institute of Chicago, Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection.


    About the Norton Simon Museum

    The Norton Simon Museum is known around the world as one of the most remarkable private art collections ever assembled. Over a 30-year period, industrialist Norton Simon (1907–1993) amassed an astonishing collection of European art from the Renaissance to the 20th century, and a stellar collection of South and Southeast Asian art spanning 2,000 years. Modern and Contemporary Art from Europe and the United States, acquired by the former Pasadena Art Museum, also occupies an important place in the Museum’s collections. The Museum houses more than 12,000 objects, roughly 1,000 of which are on view in the galleries and gardens. Two temporary exhibition spaces feature rotating installations of artworks not on permanent display.

    Location: The Norton Simon Museum is located at 411 W. Colorado Blvd. at Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena, Calif., at the intersection of the Foothill (210) and Ventura (134) freeways. For general Museum information, please call (626) 449-6840 or visit www.nortonsimon.org. Hours: The Museum is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Tuesday. Admission: General admission is $12 for adults and $9 for seniors. Members, students with I.D., and patrons age 18 and under are admitted free of charge. Admission is free for everyone on the first Friday of every month from 5 to 8 p.m. All public programs, unless stated otherwise, are free with admission. The Museum is wheelchair accessible. Parking: Parking is free, and no reservations are necessary. Public Transportation: The City of Pasadena provides a shuttle bus to transport passengers through the Pasadena Playhouse district, the Lake Avenue shopping district and Old Pasadena. A shuttle stop is located in front of the Museum. Please visit cityofpasadena.net/artsbus for schedules. The MTA bus line #180/181 stops in front of the Museum. The Memorial Park Station on the MTA Gold Line, the closest Metro Rail station to the Museum, is located at 125 E. Holly St. at Arroyo Parkway. Please visit www.metro.net for schedules.

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States of Mind: Picasso Lithographs 1945–1960

October 14, 2016 - February 13, 2017


    Pasadena, CA—The Norton Simon Museum presents States of Mind: Picasso Lithographs 1945–1960, a revelatory exhibition exploring Pablo Picasso’s prolific work in the medium of lithography. Drawing from the Norton Simon Museum’s holdings of more than 700 Picasso prints—among the deepest collections of its kind anywhere in the world—States of Mind traces the evolution of the artist’s individual compositions from the 1940s and 1950s through multiple states, subtle adjustments and radical revisions. The 86 prints on view, many presented for the first time in 40 years, give viewers a rare chance to encounter this groundbreaking body of work by one of history’s most celebrated artists.

    By the end of the Second World War, Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973) had reached what he called “the moment... when the movement of my thought interests me more than the thought itself.” This new interest in “movement” found its most remarkable expression in Picasso’s practice as a printmaker. Whereas oil paintings inevitably covered their tracks, concealing the process of their making under layers of opaque color, prints—especially lithographs—promised to record their own development through sequential stages, charting the movement of their maker’s thoughts from state to state. Picasso could work up a design, print it (in a first state), rework it and print it again (in a second state), repeating the process two or 10 or 20 times to chart the metamorphoses of a particular compositional idea.

    On Nov. 2, 1945, with France still under a provisional government and groceries still rationed in Paris, Picasso walked into the Mourlot Frères print shop in the rue de Chabrol. “He arrived as though he were going to battle,” the firm’s director, Fernand Mourlot, later recalled, and indeed the demands Picasso would place on Mourlot’s master printers were without precedent. He had produced only a few dozen lithographs in the 1910s and 1920s—all more or less conventional in their approach—but the designs he brought to Mourlot’s shop were far more daring, incorporating grattage, collage and mixed media. “How could anyone possibly print from that?” demanded Gaston Tutin, one of Mourlot’s master printers, calling the artist’s disregard for proper lithographic technique “a monstrosity.” But, cajoling his reluctant collaborators, Picasso swiftly and decisively transformed the practice of lithography, producing 185 plates over the next three years and more than 400 by the end of the 1960s.

    The subjects of Picasso’s early lithographs are often ordinary: a dish of fruit, a cup of tea, a boy in a striped shirt. There are experiments with lithographic ink and doodles of animals. The face of a beautiful woman, one eyebrow slightly cocked, gazing calmly back at the observer, appears again and again. The young painter Françoise , Picasso’s companion from 1946 to 1953, provided the inspiration for many of these compositions; through two or four or 10 printed states, her features metamorphose past likeness into abstraction in a process the artist also applied to various other motifs. Perhaps the most famous example is that of The Bull, which treats a subject close to the Spanish painter’s heart. From a simple brush and ink drawing to a glowering behemoth, to a schematic portrayal reminiscent of a butcher’s chart, to a playful outline, concise as a cave painting, Picasso transformed this creature over 11 states from Dec. 5, 1945, to Jan. 17, 1946. As for several of the artist’s most iconic lithographs of the 1940s, the exhibition includes all the editioned states of The Bull as well as a unique working proof of an unnumbered state.

    Picasso at the Norton Simon Museum

    Over the course of his collecting career, Norton Simon purchased 885 works by Picasso, more than by any other artist except Goya. These comprised some 20 paintings in oil and pastel, nine bronzes, six drawings and 850 prints (some of which were sold at a later date). His largest single acquisition of Picasso artworks occurred in 1977 with the purchase of 228 lithographs, dated from the 1940s and 1950s and originating from the collection of Fernand Mourlot himself. The group included trial proofs (sometimes printed just once or twice), artist’s proofs (printed in private editions of 18, often years before the larger commercial editions of 50) and 168 final proofs marked Bon à tirer (“O.K. to print”) in Picasso’s brisk, confident hand. Opening up this rare trove, the exhibition presents 86 prints that chart Picasso’s discovery of lithography and his continuing reliance upon the medium to record the movement of his thoughts.

    Picasso and Lithography

    Unlike intaglio printmaking techniques like engraving and etching, lithography is essentially a planographic (flat) process. It relies on the repulsion of grease and water to transfer a hand-drawn image from a smooth surface (originally a piece of limestone) onto a sheet of paper. In its most rudimentary form, the lithograph requires an artist to draw or paint with a greasy crayon or greasy ink (the tusche) directly on the stone, which is then chemically fixed, wet, inked and printed, producing an exact, reversed copy of the tusche drawing. Since the development of transfer papers in the 19th century, an artist has been able to work up his or her design in the studio and send it off to the printer’s shop for chemical transfer, reversal and production. The result is an exactly reproducible image that captures all the tonal subtleties of even a pencil drawing, but requires no specialized printmaking skills on the artist’s part.

    As a printmaker, Picasso was most closely associated with intaglio techniques, particularly etching and aquatint, but lithography presented him with a new challenge and a new set of tools. What may have interested him most about the process seems to have been its flexibility: tusche applied in a liquid wash one day might be scraped off the next, mimicking the effect of a wood engraving, a child’s drawing or a graffito. A paper cutout design, inked in various colors, might be printed on its own or layered with a crayon drawing, adding new dimension to each. A figure worked up in black on a white background could be incised, covered and drawn anew as a white figure on a black background. The possibilities were endless.

    The 1950s and the Women of Algiers

    By 1955 (10 years after his arrival at Mourlot’s studio), Picasso was unquestionably the most celebrated living artist, for Henri Matisse, his only real rival, had died in 1954. The story of Picasso’s lithographs is entwined from the beginning with that of his relationship to Matisse, for two designs of the first three Picasso brought to Mourlot’s shop—white heads scraped into black tusche grounds—seem to have been inspired by white-on-black book illustrations Matisse had published the previous year. The older artist, moreover, shared Picasso’s frustration with the “disappearance” in painting of earlier stages and had attempted to solve the problem as early as 1940 by having photographs taken of his work in progress. The display at a Parisian gallery in 1945 of a finished picture by Matisse surrounded by sequential photographs taken as it was painted may have inspired Picasso’s most ambitious attempts at recording the “movement” of his own thoughts through lithography—The Bull and Two Nude Women, printed in 11 and 18 states, respectively, between November 1945 and February 1946. Both works are represented in the exhibition, which includes a precious proof with The Bull on one side and Two Nudes on the other.

    After the death of Matisse, Picasso plunged into a project still more explicitly inspired by the older artist’s work, remarking, “When Matisse died, he left his odalisques to me.” Picasso here referred to his own most-sustained experiment in seriality to date: the Women of Algiers, a series of 15 paintings (designated by the letters “A” to “O”), numerous drawings and intaglio prints, and two lithographs (one of them printed in four states) executed from late December 1954 through February 1955. With this project, Picasso measured himself not only against Matisse, the modern master of such imaginary harem scenes, but also against Eugène Delacroix, the 19th-century Romantic painter who had more or less invented the genre. When challenged for turning to an ostensibly old-fashioned subject, Picasso offered a second explanation for the series, citing the dark features and graceful profile of Jacqueline Roque, the artist’s muse and companion from 1954 until the end of his life: “Besides, Delacroix had already met Jacqueline.”

    The exhibition concludes with Picasso’s monumental lithographic portraits of Roque—most often captured in profile, in paired states (one light, the other dark)—and with the Women of Algiers, represented not only by the complete lithographic output, but by a large, brightly-colored canvas, letter “I” in the series, a painted trace of thought in motion.

    States of Mind is organized by Emily A. Beeny, associate curator at the Norton Simon Museum. In conjunction with the exhibition, the Museum is organizing an extensive series of related events that will be publicized later this year. 

    IMAGE CREDIT: Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Head of Young Girl, November 5, 1945, Lithograph, unique impression before 1st state, plate: 11-3/4 x 8-3/4 in. (29.8 x 22.2 cm); sheet: 17-1/2 x 12-3/4 in. (44.5 x 32.4 cm), The Norton Simon Foundation, F.1983.20.04.G, © 2016 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


    About the Norton Simon Museum

    The Norton Simon Museum is known around the world as one of the most remarkable private art collections ever assembled. Over a 30-year period, industrialist Norton Simon (1907–1993) amassed an astonishing collection of European art from the Renaissance to the 20th century, and a stellar collection of South and Southeast Asian art spanning 2,000 years. Modern and Contemporary Art from Europe and the United States, acquired by the former Pasadena Art Museum, also occupies an important place in the Museum’s collections. The Museum houses more than 12,000 objects, roughly 1,000 of which are on view in the galleries and gardens. Two temporary exhibition spaces feature rotating installations of artworks not on permanent display.

    Location: The Norton Simon Museum is located at 411 W. Colorado Blvd. at Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena, Calif., at the intersection of the Foothill (210) and Ventura (134) freeways. For general Museum information, please call (626) 449-6840 or visit www.nortonsimon.org. Hours: The Museum is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Tuesday. Admission: General admission is $12 for adults and $9 for seniors. Members, students with I.D., and patrons age 18 and under are admitted free of charge. Admission is free for everyone on the first Friday of every month from 5 to 8 p.m. All public programs, unless stated otherwise, are free with admission. The Museum is wheelchair accessible. Parking: Parking is free, and no reservations are necessary. Public Transportation: The City of Pasadena provides a shuttle bus to transport passengers through the Pasadena Playhouse district, the Lake Avenue shopping district and Old Pasadena. A shuttle stop is located in front of the Museum. Please visit cityofpasadena.net/artsbus for schedules. The MTA bus line #180/181 stops in front of the Museum. The Memorial Park Station on the MTA Gold Line, the closest Metro Rail station to the Museum, is located at 125 E. Holly St. at Arroyo Parkway. Please visit www.metro.net for schedules.

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Dark Visions: Mid-Century Macabre

September 02, 2016 - January 16, 2017


    Pasadena, CA
    —The Norton Simon Museum presents Dark Visions: Mid-Century Macabre, an intimate exhibition that explores unsettling and thought-provoking works of art by some of the 20th century’s most influential artists, among them Bruce Conner, Joseph Cornell, George Herms and Edward Kienholz. The 14 works on view—comprising assemblage, painting and lithography—demonstrate the ways in which artists have portrayed humankind’s struggle to face death and life’s tribulations—whether through catharsis, psychosis or a portrayal of horrors.

    While the works on view span media and decades, many share similar characteristics: the palettes are muted blacks and browns, space is restricted, and figures and forms regularly find themselves in boxes, or (even) include boxes themselves. These boxes suggest a chaos, a struggle to overcome the confines of the frame. With Lust Murder Box No. 2 from 1920–22, artist Kurt Schwitters hired master wood craftsman Albert Schulze to make a small box using intarsia—a wood veneer inlay technique—so that the work resembled his collages and the constructed overlaid forms of architecture in his famous Merzbau studio. According to Kate Steinitz, an early collaborator of Schwitters and donor of the artwork to the Museum, the title is based on a damaged plaster figure that once lay in the box and which the artist daubed with lipstick to make it look “bloody.”

    Using more traditional materials, Jack Edward Stuck envisions himself as a silhouetted profile strapped into a gas chamber chair in his painting Self-Portrait from 1960–61. The viewer voyeuristically looks in through one of the portholes of the chamber to see the artist calmly awaiting execution. Stuck does not rely on an overflow of materials to impart a sinister feel. The flat handling of the paint and the faint pencil lines lend a disquieting sense of foreboding.

    A more viscerally vicious act is depicted in the lithograph Combat from 1965, by Leon Golub. Here, two forms are intertwined in violence, as one combatant raises a fist over the other. The bold, slashing lines lend themselves to the frenetic pace and anxiety of the physical confrontation—so much so, that there is no delineation between one assailant and the other in this struggle for power. Golub does not hide anything from viewers; he puts this clash between two bodies front and center, forcing them to confront their own fears of brutality.

    Other works of art in the exhibition include Jess’ illuminated Assembly Lamp Eight, 1966—a seemingly old-fashioned lamp whose shade is comprised of photographs and glass lantern slides; Conner’s HOMAGE TO MINNIE MOUSE, 1959, a dark and mesmerizing assemblage with decomposing architectural features and fabric; Kienholz’s The Secret House of Eddie Critch, 1961, an old writing-desk inhabited by dismembered doll parts and animal fur; and Connor Everts’ Now the Act Is Consummated from his seminal Studies in Desperation lithographic series of late 1963, created in part as a response to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

    Dark Visions: Mid-Century Macabre is organized by Curatorial Associate Tom Norris. The exhibition is on view in the Museum’s main level rotating gallery from Sept. 2, 2016 to Jan. 16, 2017. A series of events will be offered in conjunction with the exhibition. Information can be found at www.nortonsimon.org.


    About the Norton Simon Museum

    The Norton Simon Museum is known around the world as one of the most remarkable private art collections ever assembled. Over a 30-year period, industrialist Norton Simon (1907–1993) amassed an astonishing collection of European art from the Renaissance to the 20th century, and a stellar collection of South and Southeast Asian art spanning 2,000 years. Modern and Contemporary Art from Europe and the United States, acquired by the former Pasadena Art Museum, also occupies an important place in the Museum’s collections. The Museum houses more than 12,000 objects, roughly 1,000 of which are on view in the galleries and gardens. Two temporary exhibition spaces feature rotating installations of artworks not on permanent display.

    Location: The Norton Simon Museum is located at 411 W. Colorado Blvd. at Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena, Calif., at the intersection of the Foothill (210) and Ventura (134) freeways. For general Museum information, please call (626) 449-6840 or visit www.nortonsimon.org. Hours: The Museum is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Tuesday. Admission: General admission is $12 for adults and $9 for seniors. Members, students with I.D., and patrons age 18 and under are admitted free of charge. Admission is free for everyone on the first Friday of every month from 5 to 8 p.m. All public programs, unless stated otherwise, are free with admission. The Museum is wheelchair accessible. Parking: Parking is free, and no reservations are necessary. Public Transportation: The City of Pasadena provides a shuttle bus to transport passengers through the Pasadena Playhouse district, the Lake Avenue shopping district and Old Pasadena. A shuttle stop is located in front of the Museum. Please visit cityofpasadena.net/artsbus for schedules. The MTA bus line #180/181 stops in front of the Museum. The Memorial Park Station on the MTA Gold Line, the closest Metro Rail station to the Museum, is located at 125 E. Holly St. at Arroyo Parkway. Please visit www.metro.net for schedules.

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Norton Simon Museum Presents its 10th Annual Summer Concert Series

July 09, 2016 - September 17, 2016


    Pasadena, CA—The Norton Simon Museum is pleased to announce its 2016 Summer Concert Series. Featuring musical performances held in the Museum’s theater on select Saturday evenings at 5:00 p.m., the series includes favorite performers such as Polli Chambers-Salazar and the California String Quartet, as well as new musicians. Performances are free with Museum admission and no reservations are required. Stickers for ensured seating are distributed in the Main Entrance gallery starting at 4:00 p.m. Members enjoy early seating between 4:30 and 4:45 p.m.; general admission seating begins at 4:45 p.m.

    The series includes:

    Baroque Music for Solo Cello: Gabrielli and Bach
    Maksim Velichkin
    Saturday, July 9, 5:00–6:00 p.m.
    Maksim Velichkin returns to the Museum to continue a survey of works for the cello, performing ricercari by Domenico Gabrielli and suites by J. S. Bach. Gabrielli composed some of the earliest attested works for solo cello, among which are his ricercari for unaccompanied cello. Bach’s cello suites are crowning masterpieces of the instrument’s solo repertoire.

    Harmony = Blue and Orange: Paul Klee in Art and Music
    Dr. Polli Chambers-Salazar
    Saturday, July 16, 5:00–6:00 p.m.
    Paul Klee was also a musician for most of his life, often practicing the violin before picking up his paintbrush to work. He noticed many correspondences between music and art, such as the expressive power of color being similar to the evocative impact of musical sound. Pianist Polli Chambers-Salazar presents a program focusing on the works of Klee and on piano works from the same time period. 

    Collective Inspiration: An Evening of Jazz
    Greg Reitan Trio
    Saturday, August 6, 5:00–6:00 p.m.
    Pianist Greg Reitan, bassist Jack Daro and drummer Dean Koba present an evening of original jazz compositions and selected works by Miles Davis, Bill Evans and Denny Zeitlin. These pieces share common themes with and invite new insights into the innovations of such 20th-century artists as Pablo Picasso, Barbara Hepworth, John McLaughlin, Josef Albers, Sam Francis, Constantin Brancusi and Vasily Kandinsky.

    Tchaikovsky and Taneyev: From Teacher to Student
    California String Quartet
    Saturday, August 20, 5:00–6:00 p.m.
    The California String Quartet returns to perform a tour de force of works by Tchaikovsky and Taneyev, a teacher and his brilliant student. The performance begins with the finale Allegro giusto–Allegro vivace from String Quartet no. 1 in D major by Tchaikovsky, and it concludes with Taneyev’s String Quartet no. 6.

    Longitude with Latitude
    Vicki Ray
    Saturday, August 27, 5:00–6:00 p.m.
    Pianist Vicki Ray presents a program of modern works for solo piano. Five Baroque Settings from the Norton Simon by Joseph Pereira and Seven Mirrors by the Cambodian composer Chinary Ung underscore the Museum’s early European and Asian collections, while John Cage’s Music for Marcel Duchamp and Jacob TV’s The Body of Your Dreams musically illustrate the Duchamp to Pop exhibition.

    Many Centuries of Two Guitars
    The Odeum Guitar Duo
    Saturday, September 17, 5:00–6:00 p.m.

    The Odeum Guitar Duo returns to the Museum to project a multitude of tonal colors that mirror in sound the myriad hues employed by great painters in their masterpieces. Fred Benedetti and Robert Wetzel perform duo and solo guitar works drawn from across the centuries.


    About the Norton Simon Museum

    The Norton Simon Museum is known around the world as one of the most remarkable private art collections ever assembled. Over a 30-year period, industrialist Norton Simon (1907–1993) amassed an astonishing collection of European art from the Renaissance to the 20th century, and a stellar collection of South and Southeast Asian art spanning 2,000 years. Modern and Contemporary Art from Europe and the United States, acquired by the former Pasadena Art Museum, also occupies an important place in the Museum’s collections. The Museum houses more than 12,000 objects, roughly 1,000 of which are on view in the galleries and gardens. Two temporary exhibition spaces feature rotating installations of artworks not on permanent display.

    Location: The Norton Simon Museum is located at 411 W. Colorado Blvd. at Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena, Calif., at the intersection of the Foothill (210) and Ventura (134) freeways. For general Museum information, please call (626) 449-6840 or visit www.nortonsimon.org. Hours: The Museum is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Tuesday. Admission: General admission is $12 for adults and $9 for seniors. Members, students with I.D., and patrons age 18 and under are admitted free of charge. Admission is free for everyone on the first Friday of every month from 5 to 8 p.m. All public programs, unless stated otherwise, are free with admission. The Museum is wheelchair accessible. Parking: Parking is free, and no reservations are necessary. Public Transportation: The City of Pasadena provides a shuttle bus to transport passengers through the Pasadena Playhouse district, the Lake Avenue shopping district and Old Pasadena. A shuttle stop is located in front of the Museum. Please visit cityofpasadena.net/artsbus for schedules. The MTA bus line #180/181 stops in front of the Museum. The Memorial Park Station on the MTA Gold Line, the closest Metro Rail station to the Museum, is located at 125 E. Holly St. at Arroyo Parkway. Please visit www.metro.net for schedules.

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Summer Exhibitions and Events

July 01, 2016 - September 30, 2016


    Pasadena, CA—The Norton Simon Museum announces its summer season of events and exhibitions. Unless otherwise stated, all events are free with admission. Tickets for ensured seating for lectures and concerts are distributed in the main entrance gallery one hour prior to event. Members enjoy early seating.

    Highlights of the season include the tenth annual Summer Concert Series, the Summer Escapes Film and Tour series, Thursday Summer Fun family program and a new Game Night series titled "Checkmate: Chess at the Norton Simon Museum."

    Plus the opening of the exhibition Dark Visions: Mid-Century Macabre.

    Please click on the PDF at the right to view the complete summer schedule. 


    About the Norton Simon Museum

    The Norton Simon Museum is known around the world as one of the most remarkable private art collections ever assembled. Over a 30-year period, industrialist Norton Simon (1907–1993) amassed an astonishing collection of European art from the Renaissance to the 20th century, and a stellar collection of South and Southeast Asian art spanning 2,000 years. Modern and Contemporary Art from Europe and the United States, acquired by the former Pasadena Art Museum, also occupies an important place in the Museum’s collections. The Museum houses more than 12,000 objects, roughly 1,000 of which are on view in the galleries and gardens. Two temporary exhibition spaces feature rotating installations of artworks not on permanent display.

    Location: The Norton Simon Museum is located at 411 W. Colorado Blvd. at Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena, Calif., at the intersection of the Foothill (210) and Ventura (134) freeways. For general Museum information, please call (626) 449-6840 or visit www.nortonsimon.org. Hours: The Museum is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Tuesday. Admission: General admission is $12 for adults and $9 for seniors. Members, students with I.D., and patrons age 18 and under are admitted free of charge. Admission is free for everyone on the first Friday of every month from 5 to 8 p.m. All public programs, unless stated otherwise, are free with admission. The Museum is wheelchair accessible. Parking: Parking is free, and no reservations are necessary. Public Transportation: The City of Pasadena provides a shuttle bus to transport passengers through the Pasadena Playhouse district, the Lake Avenue shopping district and Old Pasadena. A shuttle stop is located in front of the Museum. Please visit cityofpasadena.net/artsbus for schedules. The MTA bus line #180/181 stops in front of the Museum. The Memorial Park Station on the MTA Gold Line, the closest Metro Rail station to the Museum, is located at 125 E. Holly St. at Arroyo Parkway. Please visit www.metro.net for schedules.

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Drawing, Dreaming and Desire: Works on Paper by Sam Francis

April 08, 2016 - July 25, 2016


    Sam Francis (American, 1923–1994), Untitled, 1961, Ink on paper, Norton Simon MuPasadena, CA
    —The Norton Simon Museum presents Drawing, Dreaming and Desire: Works on Paper by Sam Francis, an exhibition that features the artist’s drawings of erotica and the female nude, many on view for the first time. While Francis is renowned for abstract, atmospheric and vigorously colored paintings on a grand scale, these intimate drawings—meditations made visible—in pen and ink, acrylic and watercolor, show viewers a rarely-seen figurative aspect of his oeuvre. Dynamic but little known, this body of work ranges from line drawings of the 1950s to gestural brushstrokes of the 1980s and resonates with significant moments in the artist’s life.

    A native of California, Sam Francis (1923–1994) was drafted into the military in 1943 while still a student at UC Berkeley. During Army Air Corp training, he suffered a severe injury that led to a four-year hospitalization. In the midst of his confinement, Francis took up painting and quickly realized he had a passion and a talent for it. In 1950, he departed for Paris, ready to experience life to the fullest, in a new culture, while finding his way as an artist. The vibrant, sensual colors of French art, palpable in the work of Monet and Matisse, stimulated his own predilection for bright, intense colors. A youthful vitality emanates from these erotic drawings of the mid-1950s. The figures, shown in sexual embrace, float in the space of the paper, akin to the islands of color that occupy his paintings. Evident from the works’ calligraphic character is Francis’s early interest in Japanese art and aesthetics, specifically makura-e, or “pillow pictures,” which he is known to have collected.

    By the end of the decade, Francis had become the first American postwar painter to win serious acclaim in Europe. Courted by major dealers, collectors and museum curators, he was exhibiting his work on two continents and in four countries. In 1958, he completed the monumental triptych known as the Basel Mural for the Kunsthalle in Basel, Switzerland (one panel and two fragments from a second panel are part of the Simon collections). But illness struck Francis in 1961, necessitating another hospitalization for most of the year in Bern, Switzerland. Perhaps the amorous couples that Francis drew while he was bedridden suggest the weight of this new setback. In contrast to the nimble figures of his work in the 1950s, the massive forms in these works hover between abstraction and figuration and swell to the edges of the paper as though struggling against its bonds.

    The colossal energy that suffused the artist’s abstract paintings informed his frank, and sometimes provocative, depictions of the female nude from the 1980s. During these productive years in California (where he would marry his fifth wife and welcome a son), he employed the brush with a strength and vigor matched by his new passion for creating monotypes. The pigment trickles and twists across the paper. Splashes of paint confirm the physicality of the artist wielding his brush. The generative, sensual impulse found in his paintings invigorates these drawings and offers reason enough for their existence.

    Francis once said that “each painting is like my body print, taken at different moments of my life.”  This sentiment is germane to the works displayed in Drawing, Dreaming and Desire, which, because of their intimate nature, provide insight into his psyche. His sustained attention to line, its descriptive and decorative power, offered a counterbalance to his abstractions, an aesthetic release for an artist whose public acclaim centered on the diffused surfaces of his bold abstractions.

    Drawing, Dreaming and Desire: Works on Paper by Sam Francis is organized by Curator Gloria Williams Sander. The seventeen works presented in the exhibition are part of a larger donation of the artist’s drawings by the Sam Francis Foundation in 2012, and this exhibition is the first opportunity for the public to see them. It is on view in the Museum’s small rotating gallery on the main level from Friday, April 8 through Monday, July 25, 2016. 

    About the Norton Simon Museum

    The Norton Simon Museum is known around the world as one of the most remarkable private art collections ever assembled. Over a 30-year period, industrialist Norton Simon (1907–1993) amassed an astonishing collection of European art from the Renaissance to the 20th century, and a stellar collection of South and Southeast Asian art spanning 2,000 years. Modern and Contemporary Art from Europe and the United States, acquired by the former Pasadena Art Museum, also occupies an important place in the Museum’s collections. The Museum houses more than 12,000 objects, roughly 1,000 of which are on view in the galleries and gardens. Two temporary exhibition spaces feature rotating installations of artworks not on permanent display.

    Location: The Norton Simon Museum is located at 411 W. Colorado Blvd. at Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena, Calif., at the intersection of the Foothill (210) and Ventura (134) freeways. For general Museum information, please call (626) 449-6840 or visit www.nortonsimon.org. Hours: The Museum is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Tuesday. Admission: General admission is $12 for adults and $9 for seniors. Members, students with I.D., and patrons age 18 and under are admitted free of charge. Admission is free for everyone on the first Friday of every month from 5 to 8 p.m. All public programs, unless stated otherwise, are free with admission. The Museum is wheelchair accessible. Parking: Parking is free, and no reservations are necessary. Public Transportation: The City of Pasadena provides a shuttle bus to transport passengers through the Pasadena Playhouse district, the Lake Avenue shopping district and Old Pasadena. A shuttle stop is located in front of the Museum. Please visit pasadenatransit.net for schedules. The MTA bus line #180/181 stops in front of the Museum. The Memorial Park Station on the MTA Gold Line, the closest Metro Rail station to the Museum, is located at 125 E. Holly St. at Arroyo Parkway. Please visit www.metro.net for schedules.

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Spring Exhibitions and Events Schedule

April 01, 2016 - June 30, 2016

    Pasadena, CA—The Norton Simon Museum announces its spring season of events and exhibitions. Unless otherwise stated, all events are free with admission. Tickets for ensured seating for lectures and concerts are distributed in the main entrance gallery one hour prior to event. Members enjoy early seating.

    Highlights of the season include the lectures Duchamp's Telegram and In Pursuit of Goya in Pasadena, and the Museum's annual Garden Party

    Plus the opening of the exhibition Drawing, Dreaming and Desire: Works on Paper by Sam Francis.

    Please click on the PDF at the right to view the complete spring schedule. 

     


    About the Norton Simon Museum

    The Norton Simon Museum is known around the world as one of the most remarkable private art collections ever assembled. Over a 30-year period, industrialist Norton Simon (1907–1993) amassed an astonishing collection of European art from the Renaissance to the 20th century, and a stellar collection of South and Southeast Asian art spanning 2,000 years. Modern and Contemporary Art from Europe and the United States, acquired by the former Pasadena Art Museum, also occupies an important place in the Museum’s collections. The Museum houses more than 12,000 objects, roughly 1,000 of which are on view in the galleries and gardens. Two temporary exhibition spaces feature rotating installations of artworks not on permanent display.

    Location: The Norton Simon Museum is located at 411 W. Colorado Blvd. at Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena, Calif., at the intersection of the Foothill (210) and Ventura (134) freeways. For general Museum information, please call (626) 449-6840 or visit www.nortonsimon.org. Hours: The Museum is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Tuesday. Admission: General admission is $12 for adults and $9 for seniors. Members, students with I.D., and patrons age 18 and under are admitted free of charge. Admission is free for everyone on the first Friday of every month from 5 to 8 p.m. All public programs, unless stated otherwise, are free with admission. The Museum is wheelchair accessible. Parking: Parking is free, and no reservations are necessary. Public Transportation: The City of Pasadena provides a shuttle bus to transport passengers through the Pasadena Playhouse district, the Lake Avenue shopping district and Old Pasadena. A shuttle stop is located in front of the Museum. Please visit cityofpasadena.net/artsbus for schedules. The MTA bus line #180/181 stops in front of the Museum. The Memorial Park Station on the MTA Gold Line, the closest Metro Rail station to the Museum, is located at 125 E. Holly St. at Arroyo Parkway. Please visit www.metro.net for schedules.

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Duchamp to Pop

March 04, 2016 - August 29, 2016


    Pasadena, CA
    —The Norton Simon Museum presents Duchamp to Pop, an exhibition that examines Marcel Duchamp’s potent influence on Pop Art and its leading artists, among them Andy Warhol, Jim Dine and Ed Ruscha. Approximately 40 artworks from the Museum’s exceptional collection of 20th-century art, along with a handful of loans, are brought together to pay tribute to the creative genius of Duchamp and demonstrate his resounding impact on a select group of artists born half a century later. The exhibition also presents materials from the archives of the Pasadena Art Museum (which later became the Norton Simon Museum) that pertain to two seminal exhibitions there—New Painting of Common Objects from 1962 and Marcel Duchamp Retrospective from 1963.

    Marcel Duchamp
    In 1916, Duchamp (1887–1968) wrote to his sister, “I purchased this as a sculpture already made.” The artist was referring to his Bottlerack, and with this description he redefined what constituted a work of art. The readymade was born.

    The original Bottlerack was an unassisted readymade, meaning that it was not altered physically by the artist. The bottle rack was a functional object manufactured for the drying of glass bottles. Duchamp purchased it from a department store in Paris and brought the bottle rack into the art world to alter its meaning. The act of choosing a readymade allowed Duchamp to, as he said in a 1953 interview, “reduce the idea of aesthetic consideration to the choice of the mind, not to the ability or cleverness of the hand.” Thus, Duchamp privileged the artist’s concept and intent over the details of form.

    In 1963, at the prompting of Pasadena Art Museum Director Thomas Leavitt, Curator Walter Hopps embarked on what was to become Duchamp’s first major museum retrospective. A self-described “Duchamp addict,” Hopps had first met the artist in 1949 through Los Angeles-based art collectors Walter and Louise Arensberg. After establishing the Ferus Gallery and promoting the local avant-garde, Hopps arrived at the Pasadena Art Museum well prepared to tackle this ambitious paean to Duchamp, one that would necessitate loans from private collections and art institutions, as well as the re-fabrication of several lost works.

    Duchamp’s persistence and intellectual approach, his definition of the everyday object as art and his sense of wit and irony established him as the forefather of conceptual art. He was quintessential to many of the stylistic movements of the latter half of the 20th century, including Pop Art, a moniker derived from the essence of “popular culture.” His retrospective in Pasadena, at the age of 76, garnered critical attention and praise, and brought him into the sphere of many of the young artists who revered him.

    Pop Art
    From the mid-1950s forward, Pop Art emerged as a response to the post-war acceleration of production and consumerism, and it became the predominant art movement of the 1960s. An inundation of media imagery and advertising led artists to reflect on the world as it was being marketed to them. At first glance, Pop Art can be seen as the antithesis of conceptual art, but below its slick surface, it is a thoughtful, occasionally flippant, critique of commerce and advertising. The use and depiction of everyday items allowed Pop artists to challenge the nature of marketing, explore identity representation and counter the heavy-handed emotional intensity of previous generations, such as the Abstract Expressionists.

    By the early 1960s, Pop Art had made its way into modern art galleries, but had yet to be recognized in the hallowed halls of museums. Then, in 1962, one year prior to the Duchamp retrospective, Hopps organized New Painting of Common Objects at the Pasadena Art Museum. Widely regarded as the first Pop Art exhibition in a museum, it brought together works by Dine (b. 1935), Robert Dowd (1936–1996), Joe Goode (b. 1937), Phillip Hefferton (1933–2008), Roy Lichtenstein (1923–1997), Ruscha (b. 1937), Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920) and Warhol (1928–1987). On view from just Sept. 25 through Oct. 19, 1962, the highly influential exhibition marked a turning point for the movement (the term Pop Art was deliberately kept out of the show’s title) and for many of the young artists featured.

    Duchamp to Pop
    While not a recreation of either of these two exhibitions, Duchamp to Pop features 13 Duchamp works, most of which were part of the retrospective, along with the Duchamp-designed exhibition poster. These pieces (including a replica of his 1914 Bottlerack) are installed together with iconic works by all eight of the artists who were featured in the New Painting exhibition, as well as other pivotal Pop artists. (The exhibition poster from that show, designed by Ruscha, is also featured.) Shown side-by-side, the artworks vividly illustrate the connections between these two generations of artists. Duchamp’s L.H.O.O.Q. or La Joconde, a common postcard of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa on whose face he drew a mustache, stares across at Warhol’s Jacqueline Kennedy II (Jackie II), a silkscreen of the grieving first lady at her husband’s funeral. These two famous faces, considered icons of feminine beauty, demonstrate both artists’ fascination with identity and popular culture.    

    Duchamp to Pop is organized by Curatorial Associate Tom Norris. The exhibition is on view March 4 through Aug. 29, 2016, in the Museum’s lower-level exhibition gallery. A series of related events, including lectures, films, tours and performances, will be offered. More information is available at nortonsimon.org. 


    About the Norton Simon Museum

    The Norton Simon Museum is known around the world as one of the most remarkable private art collections ever assembled. Over a 30-year period, industrialist Norton Simon (1907–1993) amassed an astonishing collection of European art from the Renaissance to the 20th century, and a stellar collection of South and Southeast Asian art spanning 2,000 years. Modern and Contemporary Art from Europe and the United States, acquired by the former Pasadena Art Museum, also occupies an important place in the Museum’s collections. The Museum houses more than 12,000 objects, roughly 1,000 of which are on view in the galleries and gardens. Two temporary exhibition spaces feature rotating installations of artworks not on permanent display.

    Location: The Norton Simon Museum is located at 411 W. Colorado Blvd. at Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena, Calif., at the intersection of the Foothill (210) and Ventura (134) freeways. For general Museum information, please call (626) 449-6840 or visit www.nortonsimon.org. Hours: The Museum is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Tuesday. Admission: General admission is $12 for adults and $9 for seniors. Members, students with I.D., and patrons age 18 and under are admitted free of charge. Admission is free for everyone on the first Friday of every month from 5 to 8 p.m. All public programs, unless stated otherwise, are free with admission. The Museum is wheelchair accessible. Parking: Parking is free, and no reservations are necessary. Public Transportation: The City of Pasadena provides a shuttle bus to transport passengers through the Pasadena Playhouse district, the Lake Avenue shopping district and Old Pasadena. A shuttle stop is located in front of the Museum. Please visit cityofpasadena.net/artsbus for schedules. The MTA bus line #180/181 stops in front of the Museum. The Memorial Park Station on the MTA Gold Line, the closest Metro Rail station to the Museum, is located at 125 E. Holly St. at Arroyo Parkway. Please visit www.metro.net for schedules.

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Norton Simon Museum Announces 2016 Exhibition Schedule

January 01, 2016 - December 31, 2016


    Pasadena, CA—The Norton Simon Museum is delighted to share its exhibition schedule for 2016. Information is subject to change. Please contact us to confirm before publishing.

    Duchamp to Pop
    March 4–August 29, 2016

    Many of the twentieth century’s greatest artists were influenced by one pivotal figure: Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968). Duchamp to Pop uses the Norton Simon Museum’s collection and rich archives from two seminal exhibitions—New Painting of Common Objects from 1962 and Marcel Duchamp Retrospective from 1963—to illustrate Duchamp’s potent influence on Pop Art and the artists Andy Warhol, Jim Dine, Ed Ruscha and others.

     

    Drawing, Dreaming and Desire: Works on Paper by Sam Francis
    April 8–July 25, 2016

    Drawing, Dreaming and Desire presents works on paper that explore the subject of erotica by the internationally acclaimed artist Sam Francis (1923–1994). Renowned for his abstract, atmospheric and vigorously colored paintings, these intimate drawings—thoughts made visible, in pen and ink, acrylic and watercolor—relate to the genre of erotic art long practiced by artists in the West and the East. They resonate with significant moments in the artist’s biography, and reveal another aspect of his creative energy. This highly spirited but little known body of work, which ranges from the line drawings of the 1950s to the gestural, calligraphic brushstrokes of the 1980s, provides insight to a deeply personal side of the artist’s creative oeuvre.

     

    Dark Visions: Mid-Century Macabre
    September 2, 2016–January 16, 2017

    The twentieth century produced some of the most distinctive, breakthrough art movements: Surrealism, Cubism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art and Minimalism. Many modern and contemporary artists, however, eluded classification, and created works of art that addressed their own inner turmoil or explored dark and sometimes sinister subject matter. Dark Visions: Mid-Century Macabre presents works by Kurt Schwitters, Joseph Cornell, George Herms, Edward Kienholz and others that allow viewers to mine the shadowy recesses of artistic endeavor.

     

    States of Mind: Picasso Prints from the Norton Simon Collection
    October 14, 2016–February 13, 2017

    By the mid-1940s, Pablo Picasso had reached what he called “the moment... when the movement of my thought interests me more than the thought itself.” This new interest in “movement”—the process or evolution of an artistic statement—found its most remarkable expression in Picasso’s practice as a printmaker. Where oil paintings inevitably covered their tracks, concealing the process of their making, prints promised to record their own development through sequential stages, charting the movement of their maker’s thoughts from state to state. Drawing on the Norton Simon Museum’s extraordinary collection of Picasso proofs and prints—one of the deepest in North America—this exhibition traces the evolution of individual compositions from the 1940s and 1950s through multiple states, subtle adjustments and radical revisions.


    Image Credits, top to bottom
    : Marcel Duchamp, Self-Portrait in Profile, 1959, Color Screenprint, Edition of 40, Deluxe edition published by La Hune, Paris, Norton Simon Museum, Gift of Mr. John Coplans in homage to Mr. Walter Hopps, © Succession Marcel Duchamp/ADAGP, Paris/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Sam Francis, Untitled, 1961, ink on paper, Norton Simon Museum, Gift of the Sam Francis Foundation; Kurt Schwitters, Lust Murder Box No. 2, 1920-1922, Inlaid exotic wood box (crafted by Albert Schulze, Hannover), Norton Simon Museum, Gift of Kate Steinitz, © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn; Pablo Picasso, Head of Young Girl, November 5, 1945, Lithograph, unique impression before 1st state, The Norton Simon Foundation, © Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 

     


    About the Norton Simon Museum

    The Norton Simon Museum is known around the world as one of the most remarkable private art collections ever assembled. Over a 30-year period, industrialist Norton Simon (1907–1993) amassed an astonishing collection of European art from the Renaissance to the 20th century, and a stellar collection of South and Southeast Asian art spanning 2,000 years. Modern and Contemporary Art from Europe and the United States, acquired by the former Pasadena Art Museum, also occupies an important place in the Museum’s collections. The Museum houses more than 12,000 objects, roughly 1,000 of which are on view in the galleries and gardens. Two temporary exhibition spaces feature rotating installations of artworks not on permanent display.

    Location: The Norton Simon Museum is located at 411 W. Colorado Blvd. at Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena, Calif., at the intersection of the Foothill (210) and Ventura (134) freeways. For general Museum information, please call (626) 449-6840 or visit www.nortonsimon.org. Hours: The Museum is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Tuesday. Admission: General admission is $12 for adults and $9 for seniors. Members, students with I.D., and patrons age 18 and under are admitted free of charge. Admission is free for everyone on the first Friday of every month from 5 to 8 p.m. All public programs, unless stated otherwise, are free with admission. The Museum is wheelchair accessible. Parking: Parking is free, and no reservations are necessary. Public Transportation: The City of Pasadena provides a shuttle bus to transport passengers through the Pasadena Playhouse district, the Lake Avenue shopping district and Old Pasadena. A shuttle stop is located in front of the Museum. Please visit cityofpasadena.net/artsbus for schedules. The MTA bus line #180/181 stops in front of the Museum. The Memorial Park Station on the MTA Gold Line, the closest Metro Rail station to the Museum, is located at 125 E. Holly St. at Arroyo Parkway. Please visit www.metro.net for schedules.