Bard News & Events

Press Release


Emily Darrow

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.— On Sunday, March 19, the Center for Curatorial Studies Museum at Bard College will display eighteen photographic works recently donated to the museum from the Norton Collection. The exhibition The Body in Photographs: A Recent Gift from Eileen and Peter Norton, curated by museum director Amada Cruz, will be on view through Sunday, May 28. There is an opening reception for the exhibition on March 19, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. The center is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Both the exhibition and reception are free and open to the public.

The Center for Curatorial Studies Museum at Bard College has been named as one of 29 museums in the United States and abroad to receive gifts of contemporary artwork from the well-known collection of Peter and Eileen Norton. The Nortons have announced the donation of nearly 1,000 artworks, with a total estimated value of more than $2 million, to institutions including The Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Tate Gallery in London, and the CCS Museum.

The Nortons have donated the works, organized in thematic packages, in the hope of strengthening the presence of contemporary art and disseminating its adventuresome spirit throughout the United States. Most of the gifts are going to college and university art galleries and to institutions outside the biggest cities, bringing the works of challenging younger artists to the attention of a broader public and building the collections of the most active and vibrant of America's smaller museums.

The great majority of the pieces in the Norton donation were made in the 1990s and are the work of younger artists. Among the eighteen artworks donated to the Center for Curatorial Studies are: Nobuyoshi Araki Tokyo Nude; Adam Brooks Illusion and Content; Jerry Burchfield Signs Favorable; Morrie Camhi It's No Good Waiting for Chances; Nan Goldin JoJo At Home; Eric Magnuson Pthalo Green Thumb; Cris Moor TEST–Kim LaManion; Yriea Nagashima Untitled (Feet); Alix Pearlstein Egg Yang; Zizi Raymond Untitled; Aura Rosenberg Untitled, 1990 and 1992; Julia Schlosser Untitled (Fishhooks); and Cindy Sherman Untitled #313.

"The Norton gift of eighteen photographic works is a significant addition and perfect complement to our collection," says museum director Amada Cruz. "The works are an invaluable resource for our curatorial studies students as they prepare their exhibitions, as well as visiting curators and in-house staff for upcoming shows."

The Nortons began to assemble their art collection in the 1980s, concentrating on new works that embodied socially meaningful ideas in visually exciting forms. The couple stepped up their collecting in 1990, the year Mr. Norton merged his company, Peter Norton Computing Inc., with Symantec Corp. Since then, the Nortons have consistently been included on the ArtNews list of the world's 200 top collectors.

Through the present donation, the Nortons are giving away some 40 percent of their existing collection. The donation follows upon a decade of similar initiatives by Eileen and Peter Norton. Among the couple's best-known philanthropies in the arts has been the Curator's Grant Program, initiated in 1990. Each year, the Nortons provide discretionary funds to two or three contemporary-art curators of exceptional merit so the curators can purchase works of art for their institutions. In this way, the Nortons have rewarded and encouraged fresh thinking by curators, developed a nationwide community among curators, built the collections of museums, and provided much-needed sales to artists.

Independent curator Thomas Solomon and the Nortons' Senior Curator Susan Cahan surveyed institutions throughout the United States on behalf of the Nortons in order to propose a list of smaller museums and university art galleries that might benefit from the donation. The Nortons hope their gifts will inspire others to be inventive in supporting these museums.

"Even the biggest museums have very limited funds for the purchase of contemporary art," Peter Norton explains. "The many smaller art museums and arts centers are even shorter on acquisition funds. So we thought the most interesting and beneficial thing we could do was to create mini-collections that would be organized in some meaningful way-by region, for example, or by subject matter-and donate them to lean but admirable arts institutions across the country: the university galleries and museums in smaller cities that have shown spunk and interest in this realm."

"Our purpose," Mr. Norton continues, "is to respond to the rise of cultural excellence across the United States. Virtually every regional capital, from Miami to Seattle, now has some cultural facility that exhibits contemporary art and collects it to the extent it can. That's an important phenomenon-but it's gone unheralded. So, as much as we honor world leaders such as MoMA and the Tate, we feel that's not enough. To do our part for the values of experimental art, we also want to help strengthen these important smaller institutions all around the country."

To encourage inventiveness in building museum collections, the Nortons have organized the donation in packages, suiting each group of works to the needs and curatorial direction of the museum receiving the gift. Rather than group the works in conventional categories-by style or period, for example-the Nortons have preferred to package the gifts by themes.

The Center for Curatorial Studies Museum has received a package titled The Body in Photographs. The regional museums which have received gifts through the Norton donation are the Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach; Boise Art Museum; Carnegie Art Museum Oxnard; The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri; Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach; Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami; Oakland Museum of California; Orange County Museum of Art; Portland Art Museum (Oregon); and San Jose Museum of Art. The donation also expresses the Nortons' ongoing concern with education. (Among his other activities, Peter Norton serves as a trustee of Reed College and Cal Arts.)

Ten teaching institutions have received gifts: The Art Museum, Princeton University; the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College; Patrick and Beatrice Haggerty Museum of Art, Marquette University, Milwaukee; Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle; Johnson County Community College Gallery of Art, Overland Park, Kansas; Los Angeles Children's Museum; Harriet and Charles Luckman Fine Arts Complex, California State University, Los Angeles; University Art Museum, Santa Barbara; University of California Berkeley Art Museum; and Weatherspoon Art Gallery, University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

"We are interested in museums that are in a process of growth or evolution," Peter Norton explains. "We felt a well-conceived donation could give a boost to a program that was under way. We also felt the donation could encourage the community to support the museum and become involved in it. When someone from outside steps in with a gift, it says to the community, 'You have a worthwhile institution in your midst.'"

"At the same time," Mr. Norton continues, "this donation says, 'These artworks deserve to be exhibited and discussed.' Even if they haven't been certified as art-historical, even if the market hasn't stamped them with a dollar value, these artworks have meaning and legitimacy in their own right. By placing them within thematic contexts, and by giving them to museums where we know they'll be appreciated, we help put these works into the public discourse. And that's where the ideas and spirit of contemporary art belong."

For further information about the exhibition call 914-758-7598 or email:

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This event was last updated on 03-02-2001