Norton Simon Museum is an art museum located in Pasadena,
California, United States. It was previously known as the Pasadena Art
Institute and the Pasadena Art Museum.
3.1 Asian art
3.2 European art: 14th-16th centuries
3.3 European art: 17th-18th centuries
3.4 European art: 19th century
3.5 Modern art
3.6 Contemporary art
5 Selected highlights
6 Art repatriation issues
8 External links
Norton Simon collections include: European paintings, sculptures,
and tapestries; Asian sculptures, paintings, and woodblock prints; and
sculpture gardens displaying many sculptors' work in a landscape
setting around a large pond. The museum contains the Norton Simon
Theater which shows film programs daily, and hosts lectures, symposia,
and dance and musical performances year-round. The museum is located
along the route of the Tournament of Roses's Rose Parade, where its
distinctive, brown tile-exterior can be seen in the background on TV.
The museum entrance hall
After receiving approximately 400 German Expressionist pieces from
Galka Scheyer in 1953, the Pasadena Art Institute changed
its name to the
Pasadena Art Museum
Pasadena Art Museum in 1954 and occupied the
Grace Nicholson Treasure House of Oriental
Art” building (now the Pacific
Asia Museum) on North Los Robles
Avenue until 1970. The Museum filled a void, being the only modern
art museum between San Francisco and La Jolla in
California at the
time. It was renowned for progressive art exhibits and supported the
work of local contemporary artists such as Helen Lundeberg, John
McLaughlin, and Sam Francis. In 1962, curator
Walter Hopps arrived
from the Ferus gallery, organizing an early Pop art show in 1962 and a
Marcel Duchamp retrospective in 1963, as well as solo shows of the
Kurt Schwitters and Joseph Cornell.
Hopps later drew up a short list of
California architects for a new
museum building, including Richard Neutra, Charles Eames, John
Lautner, Craig Ellwood, and Thornton Ladd. Hopps insisted on a
local architect because he expected a high level of interaction
throughout the design process. A new
Pasadena Art Museum
Pasadena Art Museum building
was completed in 1969, designed by Pasadena architects Thornton Ladd
and John Kelsey of the firm Ladd + Kelsey. The distinctive and modern
curvilinear exterior facade is faced in 115,000 glazed tiles, in
varying rich brown tones with an undulating surface, made by renowned
ceramic artisan Edith Heath. Hopps resigned before the museum
In the early 1970s, due to an ambitious schedule of exhibits and the
new building project, the museum began to experience serious financial
hardships. By that time industrialist Norton Simon, who had risen to
become one of the pre-eminent art collectors in the world during the
1960s, was searching for a permanent location for his growing
collection of over 4,000 objects. He was first approached for
financial assistance in 1971 by trustees of the museum. In 1974, the
museum and Simon came to an agreement. According to the agreed
five-year plan, Simon took over an $850,000 loan on the building and
other financial obligations, including a $1 million accumulated
operating deficit, in return for using 75% of the gallery space for
his collection. The remainder was used to display the Pasadena
museum's contemporary collection. A new 10-member board of trustees
was formed, consisting of four members from Simon's group, three from
the Pasadena museum board and three public members nominated by
Simon. Simon also became responsible for the collection and
building projects; in return the museum was renamed to Norton Simon
Museum and renovated at a reported cost of more than $3 million.
This move, widely criticized by the local community as it represented
the closing of the only contemporary art museum between San Francisco
and La Jolla, led indirectly to the founding of the Museum of
Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in 1979, a project largely driven by
Norton Simon's sister Marcia Weisman.
Lucas Cranach the Elder,
Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve (pair), c. 1530
Simon died in 1993, and the actress Jennifer Jones, his widow and
chairwoman of the board, made corrective, conciliatory moves that have
repositioned the museum and its two collections. In 1995, the
museum began a major $5 million renovation with the architect Frank
Gehry, a longtime trustee of the museum. The redesign resulted in a
procession of medium-size, more intimate galleries with raised
ceilings and improved lighting, increased rotating exhibition space,
an entire floor devoted to Asian art, and restored access to the
gardens. The gardens were redesigned by Power and Associates to house
the 20th-century sculpture collection in an engaging setting. The new
Norton Simon Theater was the final element of the renovation, designed
by Gensler & Associates, and is used for lectures, film, dance
performances and concerts.
Norton Simon Museum, which comprises more than 11,000 objects,
contains a significant permanent collection which is highly regarded
internationally. The museum does not own the works it displays;
instead, most of the art is on long-term loan from The Norton Simon
Foundation and the
Norton Simon Art Foundation, which each own
different groups of artworks. As of 2014, their public filings placed
the combined fair-market value of the artworks at about $2.5
billion. The museum makes relatively little effort to expand the
collection amassed by its founder, but it still receives gifts.
However, no more than 800 or 900 of those pieces are on display at any
one time.The museum also mounts temporary exhibitions that focus on a
particular artist, an art movement or artistic period, or art that was
created in a specific region or country.
For more than three decades after it was founded in 1975, the Norton
Simon Museum maintained a no-loans policy. In 2007 the board agreed to
circulate select works to museums including the
National Gallery in
Washington, saying it wanted the museum to become better known. In
2009, it entered into a reciprocal loan agreement with the Frick
Collection, New York.
'Digambara Yaksha Sarvahna' from Karnataka, India, c. 900 CE
The museum has a world-renowned collection of art from South
Southeast Asia, with examples of this region’s sculptural and
painting traditions. On display are holdings from India, Pakistan,
Cambodia and Thailand, as well as selected works from
Afghanistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka,
Vietnam, and Japan. The collection is particularly rich in art from
the Indian subcontinent, including monumental stone sculpture from the
Gupta periods, and a remarkable group of
from southern India. Selections of the Museum’s
from India, and thangkas, or
Buddhist religious paintings, from Tibet
Nepal are well represented. The significant collection of Japanese
woodblock prints includes objects that were formerly in the collection
of Frank Lloyd Wright.
'Jina Suparsvanatha' from Karnataka, India, c. 900
'Digambara Yakshi Kushmandini' from Karnataka, India, c. 900
8 Miraculous Events of the Buddha's Life from Myanmar, 13th century
Water spout, central Java, 15th century
'Hindu Goddess' from Nepal, c. 1700, gilt bronze
European art: 14th-16th centuries
Masterworks of the Early Renaissance, the
High Renaissance and
Mannerism make up the museum’s extensive collection of 14th- to
16th-century European art. Exquisite works by
Paolo Veneziano and
Giovanni di Paolo, and an exceptional
Guariento di Arpo
Guariento di Arpo altarpiece,
anchor the museum’s collection of gold-ground panel paintings.
Jacopo Bassano, Botticelli,
Filippino Lippi and
represented by rich oil paintings of religious scenes. Also
represented are magnificent examples of such Northern European masters
as Lucas Cranach the Elder,
Dieric Bouts and Hans Memling. The
portraits of Giorgione,
Giovanni Bellini and
El Greco reflect the
great diversity of subject matter in the collection. Ownership of
Cranach's Adam and Eve is disputed due to their history as
European art: 17th-18th centuries
Rembrandt, Self-portrait, c. 1640
The museum’s early
Baroque paintings from Italy and Spain are
represented by such noted artists as Guido Reni, Guercino, Murillo and
Zurbarán. The Northern
Baroque collection is profoundly expressed in
the works of Peter Paul Rubens. The remarkable group of 17th-century
Dutch genre, portrait and landscape paintings is crowned with three
portraits by Rembrandt. Capping off the 17th century are Flemish and
German still lifes, and religious landscapes by the French masters
Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin. The French component of the 18th
century collection contains paintings by Watteau, Fragonard and
Boucher, while Italy is represented with capriccios and historic
glimpses into the daily life of Rome and Venice with works by Longhi,
Pannini, Guardi, Canaletto, and Tiepolo.
European art: 19th century
Vincent van Gogh, The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in the Snow, 1885,
The museum's paintings by
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and Francisco
de Goya mark the beginning of the 19th century and lead to superb
examples of mid-century Realism executed by Jean-Baptiste-Camille
Gustave Courbet and Édouard Manet. The museum has the most
significant collection of
Impressionist and Post-
Impressionist art in
Southern California. Works by Claude Monet,
Pierre-Auguste Renoir and
Edgar Degas, who alone is represented by over one hundred works of
art, are displayed alongside the vibrant palettes of Vincent van Gogh,
Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin. Complementing these works are Auguste
Rodin’s monumental bronze sculptures, displayed in the Museum’s
front garden. Outstanding paintings by
Édouard Vuillard and Pierre
Bonnard lead to the doorstep of 20th-century Modernism.
The museum has an extensive collection of Modern art, with seminal
works by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Henri Matisse, and Diego
Rivera on permanent view. The "
Galka Scheyer collection of works by
the Blue Four artists" boasts paintings and works on paper by Paul
Klee, Lyonel Feininger, Alexei Jawlensky, and Wassily Kandinsky.
Scheyer, a German art dealer and collector who had represented these
artists and settled in L.A. in 1925, left 450 works by the Blue Four
and other modern artists (plus an archive of 800 documents) to the
Pasadena Art Institute after plans had failed to give them to
The collection of Post-War Contemporary Art, from the Norton Simon
Museum's acquisition of the Pasadena Art Museum's building and
collections, is noteworthy for its strength in collage, assemblage and
sculpture, including works by Joseph Cornell, Robert Rauschenberg,
Louise Nevelson, George Herms, and Ed Kienholz. Pop Art, and Minimal
Art are represented by Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Donald Judd, and
Robert Irwin. Californian art from the 1950s through the 1970s is a
particular strength, with artwork by Sam Francis, Richard Diebenkorn,
Jay DeFeo, Ronald Davis, Larry Bell, Edward Ruscha, Kenneth Price,
Charles Arnoldi, and Ed Moses,
Color Field painting
Color Field painting and Lyrical
Abstraction are represented by Ronald Davis, Sam Francis, Kenneth
Noland, Ronnie Landfield, Frank Stella, Helen Frankenthaler, and
Major sculptors of the early 20th century, including Aristide Maillol,
Constantin Brâncuși, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, and Isamu
Noguchi, are represented by works in bronze, lead and marble
sculptures throughout the galleries, the Front Garden, and in the
extensive Sculpture Garden grounds.
Norton Simon is organized as an operating foundation, devoting its
resources to its own public benefit activities. The operating budget
is about $6 million. The museum building, which is owned by the
board of trustees, stands on land leased from the City of Pasadena for
$1 a year. The 75-year lease runs until 2050. Negotiations in the past
included possible moves to San Francisco and UCLA, as well as an
affiliation with the J. Paul Getty Trust.
Jennifer Jones' Hollywood connections brought members of the film and
television community, including Billy Wilder, Gregory Peck, Cary
Grant, David Geffen, Tom Brokaw, and Candice Bergen, to the Norton
Simon's museum board.
Giovanni di Paolo, Branchini Madonna, 1427
Dieric Bouts, Resurrection, 1455
Sandro Botticelli, Madonna and Child with Adoring Angel, 1468
Raphael, Madonna and Child with the Book, 1503
Jacopo Bassano, Flight Into Egypt, 1545
Peter Paul Rubens, The Holy Women at the Sepulchre, 1611
Francisco de Zurbarán, Still Life with Lemons, Oranges and a Rose,
Rembrandt, Portrait of a Boy, 1655
Francisco Goya, St. Jerome in Penitence, 1798
Édouard Manet, The Ragpicker, 1869
Auguste Rodin, St. John the Baptist Preaching, 1878
Claude Monet, The Artist's Garden at Vétheuil 1881
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Reclining Nude, 1882
Edgar Degas, Women Ironing, 1884
Paul Cézanne, Farmhouse and Chestnut Trees at Jas de Bouffan,
Vincent van Gogh, Vieux Paysan: Patience Escalier, 1888
Vincent van Gogh, Portrait of the Artist's Mother, 1888
Vincent van Gogh, Mulberry Tree, 1889
Art repatriation issues
In 2012, the Cambodian government asked the
United States to help it
recover a 10th-century Khmer sandstone statue from the Norton Simon
Museum, saying the work was looted from a Cambodian temple complex
during the country’s political upheavals in the 1970s. The sculpture
in question was owned by the
Norton Simon Art Foundation and has been
on display since 1980, and although Cambodian authorities have long
known it was there, they had not sought its return until recently.
In the spring of 2014, the
Norton Simon returned the sculpture to the
Kingdom of Cambodia.
Since 2007 the museum has been embroiled in a legal dispute over
rightful ownership of Lucas Cranach the Elder’s 1530 paired
paintings “Adam” and “Eve.” Marie van Saher filed suit,
seeking the return of the paintings and alleging that they were
confiscated by the Nazis from her father-in-law, Jacques Goudstikker,
a prominent Dutch Jewish art dealer. Goudstikker died on board a ship
with his family while attempting to flee the Netherlands. After the
war, the paintings were recovered by the
Monuments Men and returned to
the Dutch government. In the 1960s, the Dutch government transferred
United States Naval Commander George Stroganoff-Scherbatoff,
who claimed they had previously been stolen from his family in Russia
by the Stalinist government and sold to Goudstikker in a widely
criticized estate auction in Berlin. The paintings were sold in the
early 1970s by the Commander to
Norton Simon and his foundations, and
they have been on display in the
Norton Simon Museum of Art for more
than 30 years. Despite ethical concerns expressed by many,
including the grandson of founder Norton Simon, the Norton Simon
Museum continues its legal battle to keep the works. The Norton Simon
Museum's defense hinges on a legal sale by the Dutch government to
Commander Stroganoff-Scherbatoff after the owner's widow declined a
settlement with the government in 1966. During the case in 2012, the
court heard that "The Dutch government itself undermined the
legitimacy of [the] restitution process by describing it as
'bureaucratic, cold and often even callous." As of early 2015, the
museum is seeking U.S. Supreme Court review of a June 2014 9th Circuit
Court of Appeals ruling that allowed van Saher to continue her
claim. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a prior stage of
the case in 2010.
^ a b c Joseph Giovannini (July 18, 1999), The
Norton Simon Museum
Lightens Up New York Times.
^ Building and Garden, Pacific
Asia Museum, 2011
^ Sharon Mizota (December 26, 2011), PST, A to Z: ’46 N. Los
Robles’ at Pacific Asia, ‘Proof’ at
Norton Simon Los Angeles
^ a b c William Poundstone (September 4, 2012), How the Norton Simon
Got Its Curves Blouin Artinfo.
^ Chang, Jade (2005). Art/Shop/Eat Los Angeles. Somerset Books.
pp. 90–98. ISBN 1-905131-06-2.
^ Suzanne Muchnich (June 24, 1990), Simon Finally Breaks the Silence
Los Angeles Times.
^ Eric Pace (June 4, 1993), Norton Simon, Businessman and Collector,
Dies at 86 New York Times.
^ Campbell, Sara; Knoke, C.; Williams, G. (2003). Handbook of the
Norton Simon Museum. Pasadena, California:
Norton Simon Museum.
p. 128. ISBN 978-0972668118.
^ a b Mike Boehm (November 14, 2014),
Norton Simon grandson urges
museum to be 'just' with 'Adam' and 'Eve' Los Angeles Times.
Suzanne Muchnic (February 11, 2009), L.A. museums' collections grow
despite poor economy Los Angeles Times.
^ Carol Vogel (October 5, 2007), Masterwork From Naples, Cloaked in
Mystery New York Times.
^ Karen Rosenberg (February 27, 2009), Sharing Reflections of Tycoon
Taste and Wealth New York Times.
Suzanne Muchnic (November 13, 1994), The Modernism of Galka Scheyer
Los Angeles Times.
Suzanne Muchnic (November 13, 1994),
Norton Simon Collection to Stay
in Pasadena, Officials Say Los Angeles Times.
Suzanne Muchnic (December 18, 2009),
Jennifer Jones Simon gave new
life to husband's museum Los Angeles Times.
^ Ralph Blumenthal (September 28, 2012),
Cambodia Is Seeking 2nd
Statue Los Angeles Times.
^ Mike Boehm (May 21, 2014), Norton Simon's Temple Wrestler Heading
Home to Cambodia
^ Mike Boehm (October 8, 2014)
^ Boehm, Mike (14 November 2014). "
Norton Simon grandson urges museum
to be 'just' with Adam and Eve". LA Times. Retrieved 4 January
^ Boehm, Mike (22 July 2014). "
Norton Simon Museum seeks rehearing
after 'Adam and Eve' setback". LA Times. Retrieved 4 January
^ "Von Saher v.
Norton Simon Museum of Art at Pasadena". SCOTUSblog.
Retrieved 4 January 2015.
Norton Simon Museum official website
Norton Simon commercial showing part of their collection on YouTube
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Norton Simon Museum.
Los Angeles portal
ISNI: 0000 0001 2178 5538