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Norton Museum of Art to Present A Show of Hands: Photographs and Sculpture
Tina Barney (American, born 1945): The Watch, 1985. C-print, ed. 4/10, 48 by 60 inches. The Buhl Collection. © Tina Barney. Courtesy Janet Borden, Inc., New York.

WEST PALM BEACH, FL.- The Norton Museum of Art will present A Show of Hands: Photographs and Sculpture from the Buhl Collection from January 12 through March 25, 2008. The exhibition will feature 130 works by 120 artists and photographers from the private collection of businessman and part-time Palm Beach resident, Henry M. Buhl. The works, focusing on the human hand as inspiration, will be arranged chronologically, revealing the depth and breath of one man’s passion. The exhibition presents works from 1840 to the present, spanning the history of photography and providing an overview of the dramatic changes that have taken place since the advent of the medium.

“This exhibition demonstrates the prevalence of the hand as a theme in photography,” said Norton Museum of Art Director, Christina Orr-Cahall. “Drawn from Henry Buhl’s extensive collection, it also serves as a historical survey of the medium. The Norton Museum is also pleased to include never-before-exhibited sculptures of hands, unique to this exhibition.”

This presentation differs considerably from previous exhibitions of Buhl’s collection in New York; Bilbao, Spain; Essen, Germany; St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia. Norton Museum Photography Curator, Charles Stainback, has adapted this exhibition for the museum by selecting 130 key images from the more than 800 photographs of hands in Buhl’s collection. The inclusion of the recently acquired sculptures of hands, that have never previously been exhibited, will add a new dimension to the presentation. The sculptures cover a broad range of approaches and periods, including such notable artists as Pablo Picasso, Louise Bourgeois, Ann Hamilton, Bruce Nauman, and George Segal.

“While the works featured in A Show of Hands share a common theme, visitors will be surprised by the diversity of interpretation,” said Norton Museum Photography Curator, Charles Stainback. “In several works the hand itself is not only the subject but it dictates the overall meaning of the image, with the gesture underscoring the mood.”

Buhl began seriously collecting photography 15 years ago with the purchase of one of Alfred Stieglitz’s most famous photographs, Hands with Thimble (1920), for which his wife, Georgia O'Keeffe, was the model. This single image became the cornerstone of the collection and inspired the acquisition of other works by many recognizable names in the history of photography and art as well as lesser-known and emerging artists. To date, the collection includes works by some of the foremost artists and photographers including; Tina Barney, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, John Baldessari, Robert Capa, Gregory Crewdson, Walker Evans, Lee, Friedlander, Nan Goldin, Paul McCarthy, Barbara Kruger, Annie Leibovitz, Vik Muniz, and Irving Penn.

The images included in the exhibition present a history of photography. The earliest work in the exhibition is an 1840 photogenic drawing negative by William Henry Fox Talbot—one of the fathers of the invention of photography. A featured contemporary work is May Day II, 1998, a color photograph of fans at a rock concert that measures six by eleven feet by Andreas Gurskey, one of the most important photographers working today.

A Show of Hands is accompanied by a book published by the Guggenheim Museum, Speaking with Hands: Photographs from the Buhl Collection, which features essays by Jennifer Blessing, Kirsten A. Hoving, and Ralph Rugoff.

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