NEW YORK, N.Y.- Christies
announces the auction of a major selection of the remarkable Peter Norton Collection of contemporary art, assembled over more than two decades by one of the worlds most pioneering collectors, entrepreneurs and philanthropists. A Single Owner grouping of 60 lots will be offered throughout the Evening and the Day Sales, November 8th and 9th, and is expected to achieve in excess of $25 million. Many of the works represent the leading artists of the contemporary art world that Mr. Norton has supported since the very beginnings of their careers, many will be offered at estimates reflecting his adventurous, start-up spirit.
The pre-sale exhibition will offer visitors an eye-opening survey of contemporary art, as well as a unique glimpse into the world of a fascinating and very prescient collector. This sale will highlight Mr. Nortons enterprising spirit to collectors who are new to the endeavor, including those in emerging markets for contemporary art. In conjunction with this sale Christies will develop the educational potential of the auction by presenting special lectures in Moscow, Hong Kong and London addressing the question: What is the responsibility of a contemporary art collector?
Peter Norton states Collections reflect the sensibility of the collector; I tend to be drawn to artworks that have ideas imbedded in them, but not works that are dryly conceptual. One of my ideals for an art work is that there are thoughts and ideas behind it, but that the work nevertheless has so much visual content that it appeals to viewers who have no understanding of those ideas. I am drawn more to works that are three-dimensional, as they connect better to the actual world, and I like to buy the work of artists early in their careers, not only as it supports, encourages and gives heart to them, but also as it does the same for their contemporaries. I also tend to be drawn to work that reflects non-mainstream backgrounds: feminist art, and art from Black, Hispanic and Asian artists.
I believe in the circulation of cultural objects; the opportunity for them to be seen in different contexts by different people. We have long been donating works to museums were involved in, and now is a time to be increasing that. The sale will allow us to further our giving in other ways, as the proceeds will go towards establishing a new charitable trust.
A legendary figure in Californias Silicon Valley, Peter Norton created a series of highly successful software programs including the pioneering Norton AntiVirus, later merging his self-named company into Symantec. Bringing this same passion for inventiveness to the world of art, he became one of the most active and adventurous collectors of the work of emerging artists, especially those with fresh formal ideas and strong points of view. In 2000, over 1,000 works from the collection were gifted to a total of 32 institutions, large and small, in the single largest donation made of contemporary art. As a philanthropist, he has also made important contributions to schools and performing arts organizations in addition to serving as a trustee of various institutions, including, The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Brett Gorvy, Chairman and International Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art, comments: At once cool and controversial, the Peter Norton Collection embodies the spirit of a true visionary in contemporary art collecting. Encompassing artists who are today recognized as major talents, years after Peter Norton began supporting them, as well as artists who are considered to be emerging; this wide-ranging yet highly selective collection includes important works from Christopher Wool and Takashi Murakami to Charles Ray and Kara Walker.
Thomas Solomon, Former Consultant for the Norton Collection Museum Donations Program, comments : ―Peter Norton's mythic and important collection defies category-simply the most daring and straight from the heart. His art collection is unparalleled in scope, depth, and breadth as it exemplifies the best of the best of contemporary art. Peter Norton's collection leads a path for insight into the important issues of our times--gender, race, identity, and empowerment-each artist given support to their singular voice and unique vision.
As one of the most highly regarded groupings of Contemporary Art works ever privately assembled, the Peter Norton Collection includes a broad range of 60 works from such blue-chip artists as Robert Gober, Paul McCarthy, Nam June Paik, Fred Tomaselli, Christopher Wool and Maurizio Cattelan among others. Many of the works address issues of racial and sexual identity, politics and the human condition. The collection reflects major themes of art of the time, but also its place: Los Angeles, which became in the 1980s-90s a major focal point for artists working there like Charles Ray, as well as for galleries that promoted and supported not only American art but also international artists like Takashi Murakami. As a result, Los Angeles became an extraordinary source of creative energy - one that has continued to evolve and expand in the years since with the support of major collectors like Peter Norton.
*Paul McCarthy (B. 1945) Tomato Head (Green) fiberglass, urethane, rubber, metal, plastic, fabric and painted metal base height: 86 in. (218.4 cm.); installation dimensions variable Executed in 1994. This work is one of three unique variants (green shirt, black shirt, burgundy shirt).
Like a child´s toy, the life-size Tomato Head has holes where pegs may be inserted for the eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. Unlike a toy, however, it also has holes in its groin, making its play of constructed or changed identities into something distinctly adult. This work is from an edition of three variants, one is in the Dimitris Daskalopoulos Collection in Greece, the other in the Ydessa Hendeles Collection in Canada.
*Takashi Murakami (B. 1962) DOB in the Strange Forest fiber-reinforced plastic, resin, fiberglass, acrylic and iron 60 x 147 in. (152.4 x 373.3 cm.) Executed in 1999. This work is from an edition of three plus two artist's proofs.
Like the central character in a contemporary Alice in the Wonderland, DOB in the Strange Forest presents the viewer with a complex concoction of fun, color and social commentary. DOB, one of Murakamis favorite and most enduring characters, stands forlornly surrounded by the watchful eyes of a menacing collection of multi-colored ‗magic mushrooms. Takashi Murakami has explained that DOB in the Strange Forest is a self-portrait of both the artist and the Japanese people. In creating this strange hallucinatory world, he is inventing a form of art appropriate to the experience of modern Japan. DOB in the Strange Forest was the center piece of the artists recent retrospective at Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and Brooklyn Museum, New York.
*Robert Gober (B. 1954) Prison Window plywood, forged iron, plaster, latex paint and lights window: 24 x 24 in. (60.9 x 60.9 cm.) overall: 48 x 53 x 36 in. (121.9 x 134.6 x 91.4 cm.) Executed in 1992. This work is number five from an edition of five plus one artist's proof.
With Prison Window, the artist creates a space imbued with a deep sense of longing and frustration that elicits a strong emotional response from the viewer. One of the most engaging and intriguing works of Gobers oeuvre, the artist uses a deceptively simple two foot square section of a wall to create an emotional and psychological experience. The patently theatrical work evokes an almost spiritual longing for escape. A second Prison Window is in the Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
*Maurizio Cattelan (B. 1960) Untitled, stainless steel, wood, electric motor, electric bell, electronic device, lights, paint and plastic 23 5/8 x 33 ¾ x 18 ½ in. (60 x 85.7 x 46.9 cm.) Executed in 2001. This work is number four from an edition of ten plus two artist's proofs.
Maurizio Cattelan is often referred to as a prankster or provocateur because of the disorienting nature of his works. Untitled is a miniature replica of a commercial
elevator that can be called by pressing tiny buttons. However, the tiny ―elevator cab‖ goes nowhere, creating a whimsical yet disquietingly absurd vision of contemporary life. Another work from the edition is part of the permanent collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
*Yoshitomo Nara (B. 1959) Dogs from Your Childhood, four elements: acrylic on fiberglass, wood, fabric and rubber each dog: 72 1/2 x 38 1/4 x 58 in. (184.1 x 97.1 x 147.3 cm.) bowl diameter: 11 3/8 in. (28.8 cm.) Executed in 1999. This work is from an edition of three.
Yoshitomo Nara's sculptures of stylized cartoon animals evoke a range of memories from childhoodin the artists words, both sad and fantastic. When asked about his frequent depiction of dogs, Nara has remarked that their submissive obedience reminds him, sadly, of children. The sculpture was one of the main works at Yoshitomo Nara's exhibition, "Nobody's Fool" at the Asia Society Museum in 2010.
*Kara Walker (B. 1969) African't, twenty-five cut paper silhouettes 144 x 792 in. (365.7 x 2011.6 cm.) Executed in 1996.
With a panoramic frieze made of 25 cut-paper silhouettes, Walker turns a nostalgic, decorative art form into a powerful medium to evoke the complex horrors of slavery. Africant explores a fantasy plantation populated by stereotypical images from folklore, historical novels, movies, cartoons and old advertisements.
*Jim Hodges (b. 1957) Folding (Into a Greater World) diptych--cut mirror mounted on canvas overall: 72 3/16 x 96 1/4 in. (183.3 x 244.4 cm.) Executed in 1998.
Jim Hodges has created a broad range of work exploring themes of fragility, temporality, love and death, transforming common materials such as cut mirrors into objects of beauty and poetry. This is the first time a major mirror piece from this artist has been offered at auction.
*Sophie Calle (B. 1953) The Sleepers (Les dormeurs) 176 elements: gelatin silver prints 23 elements: ink on paper each: 6 x 8 in. (15.2 x 20.3 cm.) overall: 62 x 162 in. (157.4 x 411.4 cm.) Executed in 1979. This work is number one from an edition of two.
The Sleepers was Sophie Calle's first fully realized installation consisting of photographs and explanatory texts, documenting a series of situations orchestrated by the artist. For this work, she received permission to observe friends, neighbors and even strangers as they slept in her bed, creating a dispassionate, quasi-documentary survey out of moments that, individually, would be seen as intimate and sensual.
*Mike Kelley (B. 1954) Ahh...Youth, eight Cibachrome prints seven elements, each: 23 5/8 x 16 in. (60 x 40.6 cm.) self-portrait: 23 1/8 x 15 1/2 in. (58.7 x 39.3 cm.) Executed in 1991. This work is number five from an edition of ten plus two artist's proofs.
Ahh...Youth, unsettlingly assembles stuffed toys side by side in a progression of color photographs. In seven of the eight panels, the care-worn playthings are posed as if they were icons of play. In the remaining panel, Kelley interpolates a yearbook photograph of himself, bringing a discordant, unidealized note into the fantasy of happy childhood.
*Christopher Wool (b. 1955) Untitled (S83) enamel on aluminum 43 x 30 in. (109.2 x 76.2 cm.) Painted in 1992.
Christopher Wool began using words as imagery as early as 1987 after seeing a brand-new white truck with the words ―SEX LUV‖ hand-painted across it. In the word paintings that emerged, made at a cultural moment characterized by dark humor and a deliberately seedy aesthetic, Wool revealed ambiguous meanings in words or phrases by breaking them up in his compositions.