December 06, 2009

A Visit to The Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach

Greetings from sunny Florida where I have been enjoying the sun and the beach for the past few days! Of course, officially I'm here for Art Basel Miami Beach, now in its 7th year and while still a lot of fun, not quite the go-go event of a few years ago. So instead of speculating on who sold what for how much, I'll tell you about my visit to Palm Beach and The Norton Museum of Art.

Founded in 1941 by ACME Steel industrialist Ralph Norton and his wife Elizabeth, the Norton Gallery and School of Art showcased their extensive collection of fine European, American and Chinese art. Now expanded to a 122,500 square foot facility, the museum's holdings counts 7,000 pieces and has expanded to include photography, Contemporary Art and a ceiling by noted glass sculptor Dale Chihuly.

The ground floor is dedicated to special exhibitions and their superb collection of 20th Century painting and sculpture. On view this month is "George Segal: Street Scenes", a review of this American sculptor's exploration of the urban environment, "William Kentridge: Five Themes", a multi-media look at issues of imperialism , colonialism and apartheid though the eyes of this South African artist, and, "New York, New York: The 20th Century" which speaks for itself and was my personal favorite! Also on this floor is the Norton's permanent collection of Modern and Contemporary Art highlighted, at least for me, by the magnificent Brancusi bronze sculpture "Mademoiselle Pogany" but also showing first class works by Josef Albers, Georges Braque, Stuart Davis, Lucio Fontana, Edward Hopper, Jacob Lawrence, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol.

A walk upstairs revealed a choice group of European and Asian porcelain that occupied the entire floor. The third level is devoted to European paintings before 1900 and offers some very fine examples of art from the Italian Renaissance, Impressionism and British Portraiture.

The Norton Museum of Art is a little gem and I would certainly recommend a visit if you happen to be in town. Now that I've reached my art quota for the day it's time for a stroll on Palm Beach's magnificent Worth Avenue where the window shopping is museum quality too!

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