Thursday, July 7, 2011

Artsy Summer: Norton Simon Museum

Once upon a time, I told a friend who was visiting the Norton Simon Museum for the first time which was my favorite painting there. That friend immediately Googled the image and sent me an email about it, which left me very disappointed: I felt they had robbed themself of the experience and exuberance of seeing it live. Which is why I won't divulge which painting it was (though I will say that it's a Van Gogh), and also why I decided to delete all the photos I took of specific paintings when I went last week: you'll have to go there yourself.

The Norton Simon is my favorite local museum. The last time I was here was January, during their Hiroshige exhibit, which was very, very well done. I've also come here to see classical music performances (unfortunately, I missed Yoshida Kyodai). Helps that it's about eight minutes from where I live.

The only reason I don't have a membership is I'm not completely sold out on the entire collection, the entire lower level of which is Asian statues -- or chunks of buildings or temples -- that I'm just not that into. The paintings and bronze statues, though: amazing. Here's a shot of my favorite area, which I could just wander about or sit in for hours. An impressive collection of impressionist art; including a substantial number of items by Edgar Degas. Maybe you recognize his ballerina sculpture there?

norton simon

Since deleting the pictures I decided to take a self-portrait, though I did it mostly to capture the warm combination of wood and limestone (travertine?) flooring. The porousness of the stone and the wood texture soften the hard edge or coldness often associated with stone, especially such large expanses of it. It's also a very indoor-outdoor look, reflective of our local climate. This is to file under 'dream house inspiration.'

self portrait

Almost as important as the collection is the building in which it's housed (although in the case of the Getty Center, the grounds trump the collections, IMHO). The Norton Simon building is very classic. I am particularly fond of its rounded corners and the Rodin sculptures and sycamore trees that lead into the main entrance. Can't see it too clearly here, but I like how the 'Burghers of Calais' are lit up, along with the museum's interior.

norton simon exterior

Here's what Wikipedia tells us about the building:
[it] 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.

Yes, as in Heath Ceramics. Even better. I'm glad I looked that up!

I tried to make my way around to get up close to 'The Thinker,' which is at the street-facing side of the museum, but any entry point looked closed off (plus, it was dark by this time). Heading back to my car, I walked by what I thought an amusing sight. Call it art to shine a light on... space.  It's a cool tree lamp, though.

spot light

Admission is free the first Friday evening of each month. Hop on over when you get a chance; you'll like what you see.

1 comment:

  1. [...] I’ve already mentioned how I feel about taking pictures of paintings, so I purposely don’t have the Fra Angelicos and Boticellis to share (you’ve got to go to Florence yourself!). Instead I’ve got one of my best photos of the trip; it’s a view of the Ponte Vecchio from the second story of the Uffizi, and yes, it’s Instagram: [...]