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Norton Museum of Art Creates Striking New Exhibition with Pieces from the Miami Beach Fairs
The pieces included in Now WHAT? comprise a wide range of media from both large and small galleries.

WEST PALM BEACH, FL.- Each December, the country’s leading contemporary art collectors, dealers, critics and fans engage in urgent, heated exchanges about what’s new, what’s good and what’s next at Art Basel Miami Beach, one of the world’s most influential art fairs. Began Wednesday, December 15, 2010, barely a week after Art Basel shuts down, the prestigious Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Fla. will propose some of its own answers to those questions in a special exhibition called Now WHAT?, on view through March 13, 2011. The Museum’s curators made selections from Art Basel Miami Beach, Pulse, Scope, NADA, Art Miami and at least 14 other fairs to identify the newest, most innovative and meaningful contemporary art of today.

The Norton’s Cheryl Brutvan, Curator of Contemporary Art, and Charles Stainback, William and Sarah Ross Soter Curator of Photography, spent five days considering tens of thousands of works brought to the fairs by more than 850 gallerists. Their mission was to organize an exhibition with a theme that would add to the international dialogue about contemporary art today. Within just a few hours, an exhibition theme emerged. The show will turn on the concept of information exchange and how we communicate with one another – especially relevant within the current news cycle which is focused on the dramatic actions of the website WikiLeaks.

“The Norton Museum is uniquely positioned to contribute as pure a picture as possible of the art being made internationally today —at a time when the vast majority of commentary on the fair phenomenon is from the vantage point of the market,” says director Hope Alswang, who joined the Museum in February from The Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she served as President and Chief Executive Officer.

The pieces included in Now WHAT? comprise a wide range of media from both large and small galleries from locations as diverse as New York to California and Oregon to the UK. The artists represented include well-known names such as Roxy Paine and Liza Lou, as well as emerging artists Luke Butler and Allyson Strafella.

“Finding outstanding examples of artwork by artists both known and less familiar to us was a great joy, surpassed only by the knowledge that we can exhibit their works immediately within a serious context and public forum,” said Brutvan.

To illustrate the theme, The Norton selected artwork that plays on the subject of information exchange, such as Julian Montague’s faux series of books made from digital prints and old books entitled Volumes from an Imagined Intellectual History of Animals, Architecture and Man. Artist Kim Rugg obscures information in the highly detailed, reconfigured paper piece entitled The Story is One Sign, where she carefully papers over a specific front page of The New York Times creating 30 examples of the same page, yet each one reveals only a single letter, or punctuation.

The revelation of information can be seen in its extreme with David Shapiro’s 24-foot long September 2010,Receipts, created by his skillful, trompe l’oeil renderings of his personal expenses – for each month. Without a political statement, but focusing on a world in turmoil, Liza Lou’s remarkable Offensive/Defensive, 2008, is made of thousands of glass beads in brilliant colors evoking the composition of a prayer rug.

“Museums typically work well in advance to organize complex projects, but in this case we pulled together an exhibition that will be full of delightful surprises,” said Stainback. “Our biggest concern at the opening is to maintain the appearance of not being surprised ourselves,” he added with a smile.

Now WHAT? will be on view at the Norton Museum of Art concurrently with Stare, an exhibition of photography exploring the most basic nature of the medium through works by Diane Arbus, John Coplans, Walker Evans, Vik Muniz, J.D.`Okhai Ojeikere, Ed Ruscha, and Taryn Simon.

Norton Museum of Art | Hope Alswang | Art Basel Miami Beach |

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