Founded in 1941, the Norton Museum of Art, through perspicacious programming and engaging initiatives, has found its way into the nucleus of the Palm Beach County cultural scene. “We’re a foundation organization in the life of our county,” comments Hope Alswang, the museum’s executive director and CEO. “We want the museum to be as accessible, engaging and friendly as it possibly can be to every imaginable part of our demographic.”
Alswang joined the Norton in 2010 and has seen it develop a true sense of self. At once mindful of national and international art trends but also able to stake its own claim in the art world, the museum has made a shift towards creating many of its exhibitions in house. “We are really committed to making our own product,” Alswang says. “We will always rent exhibitions, but now we have a bunch of very talented curators making a lot of the content, so that what you see at the Norton has a very strong Norton voice.”
The 2014-15 season reflects this blend of rented and curated. The year kicked off in September with a new lobby installation by artist Terry Haggerty. This is the fourth site-specific artwork created for the museum’s lobby and was inspired by the building’s unique dimensions. Other recurring, Norton-curated endeavors include “The Rudin Prize for Emerging Photographers” (on display through January 11) and the “Recognition of Art by Women (RAW)” series, which this year highlights the work of sculptor Klara Kristalova (December 2 to March 29).
These in-house shows are complemented by a handful of rented exhibitions. From November 20 to February 15, the Norton hosts “Coming into Fashion: A Century of Photography at Condé Nast,” which constitutes a history of fashion photography as seen in the pages of Vogue, Glamour and other magazines. Visitors will view how fashion photography has changed over the past 100 years, starting with the work of pioneer photographer Baron Adolph de Meyer and progressing through other greats, including Irving Penn and Helmut Newton.
Exhibition: “Coming into Fashion: A Century of Photography at Condé Nast”
Above: Teen Vogue, January 2011, Sebastian Kim
Below: Vogue Italia, September 2002, Miles Aldridge
Then, from December 23 to April 5, the Norton will travel to the United Kingdom with “Pastures Green: The British Passion for Landscape.” On loan from the National Museum Wales, this exhibition features 65 works painted between 1650 and 2000 and focuses on the evolution of British landscape art as interpreted through genres such as Romanticism, Impressionism and Modernism.
|The Bard, Thomas Jones, part of “Pastures Green.”|
The theme of landscape continues into “Imaging Eden: Photographers Discover the Everglades,” on display March 19 to June 24. For this show, the Norton asked four international photographers to visit the Everglades and capture their unique responses and impressions.
|Non-Native Seminole Re-enactor, Seminole War Re-enactment, Big Cypress Reservation, Adam Nadel|
“They’re kind of arriving as anthropologists and experiencing it through the lens of their camera,” Alswang explains. “That’s really, for me, going to be one of the very interesting outcomes because you just never know what an artist is going to respond to.”
|Monkey Teapot, Joachim Kändler, part of “High Tea: Glorious Manifestations East and West.”|
As the season’s closing exhibition, “Imaging Eden” anchors the Norton’s year—but it isn’t alone. Another large, in-house exhibition, “Triumph of Love,” runs from February 8 to May 3 and highlights the art collection of a Palm Beach County resident. Beth Rudin DeWoody began collecting early in life and now owns in excess of 10,000 works of art, according to Alswang. Named for a Cy Twombly piece from DeWoody’s collection, “Triumph of Love” will explore the passionate eye of the collector.
“This is really an unusual look at still a young collector, but she’s just amazing,” Alswang says. “She’s known for her enormous commitment to younger artists and emerging artists, and she’s very deeply committed to the importance of artists in our society.”
These exhibitions are a mere sampling of the programming the Norton has on tap for 2014-15—and there truly is something for everyone. Do you love European art? Then check out “Renaissance to Rococo: European Collection Highlights” through January 11. Dig prints? Then the “Master Prints: Durer to Matisse” exhibit, on display November 6 to February 15, is the show for you. Or maybe you find pleasure in the simple things, like a cup of tea. If so, then visit “High Tea: Glorious Manifestations East and West,” February 19 to May 24. Whenever you decide to visit, be assured the Norton will be ready for you.
Exhibition: “Master Prints: Durer to Matisse”
Above: Les Baigneurs (Grande Planche), Cezanne
Below: Rembrandt Leaning on a Stone Sill, Rembrandt