Friday, January 22, 2010

Norton Simon Museum- January 22

Until yesterday we have pretty much been staying inside because of the heavy rains. Yesterday there was a small break in the storms so we headed out to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. This museum is one man's collection of art over thirty years. Norton Simon (1907-1993) started out with a few thousand dollars with which he bought the Hunt canning company. Over the following years he also purchased McCall's Publishing, Canada Dry, Max Factor and Avis car rental. Hard to believe that one man could be so diverse in his business dealings! Needless to say, he was successful and earned the millions necessary to build an art collection. We had a very enjoyable afternoon here at his museum. There was plenty of information, via short movies and written material, to help us understand the paintings  which we were viewing. There are 21 galleries of European art from the 14th-century to the 20th-century. In these galleries are a renowned collection of Old Masters, Impressionists as well as modern art. I especially enjoyed the study of portraits done by the museum which is entitled Gaze. A perceptible shift in that genre started happening in the late 1800s. Conventional portraits continued to be painted, but a "decisive challenge to these standard practices arose in the work of the work of the Impressionists and continued through the 20th-century" ( quote taken from the museum brochure).  I like this quote from Pablo Picasso: "are we to paint what is on the face, inside the face, or what's behind it?"  The museum also has the largest collection of Asian art outside of that area of the world. That collection consists mainly of sacred shrines and statues related to the three religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Unfortunately the gardens of this museum, which contain some sculptures
from Europe and Asia, was closed off to the public because of the rain. I am not sure we would have had time anyway to tour them because the museum itself took up our whole afternoon.

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