Norton Museum in Florida A “transformative” gift of more than 100 works by the greatest names of contemporary art
Museum leaders say the gift from Howard and Judie Ganek is in line with the founding collection of Ralph Norton.
The Norton Museum of Art at Wast Palm Beach, Florida, has drastically expanded its modern and contemporary art collection in one fell swoop. The museum today announced that it has received a
promised donation of more than 100 works from the collection of Palm Beach residents Howard and Judie Ganek. Gathering seems, as it seems, a family tradition: the couple is the parent of hedge fund manager and top collector David Ganek.
The gift includes works by some of the greatest and most coveted names in contemporary art: paintings by Damien Hirst, Anselm Kiefer, Sigmar Polke, Ed Ruscha and Kara Walker; sculpture by Theaster Gates, Donald Judd, Anish Kapoor, Mario Merz, Juan Muñoz and Kiki Smith; and photo-based work by, among others, Matthew Barney, Nan Goldin, Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson, Pipilotti Rist, Bill Viola and William Wegman.
A selection of the works will be shown when the museum reveals its high-profile expansion in February 2019. The new Norman Foster design will add a new entrance and increase the educational space by 50 percent and the exhibition space by 37 percent, creating more space for special exhibitions and an extensive permanent exhibition display. (The museum will close for construction in July.)
In addition to exhibiting works from the Ganek collection, Norton will also reopen with an exhibition about photography without a camera, a solo exhibition with work by artist Nina Chanel Abney (the latest in the Erkenning van Kunst by Vrouwen from the museum, or RAW- series), dedicated to contemporary art by women), and a presentation of watercolors collected by Ralph Norton.
The project will also include new public gardens, the first to be designed by Foster. It contains almost a dozen modern and contemporary sculptures, including the gigantic Typewriter Eraser by Claes Oldenburg, Scale X (1998-99). Hope Alswang, the director of the museum, made a comparison with the old song by Joni Mitchell, “Big Yellow Taxi.” “We have cleared a parking space to make paradise,” she told the guests at a lunch in New York. “It’s Florida, I swear by God that if you plant a pencil and water it, you’ll have a tree in a year.” / Picasso ‘musketeer’ /
Museum leaders have described the gift of the Ganeks as similar to the original seed collection donated by the institute’s namesake, industrial Ralph Norton, in 1941. In the past, Norton was best known for its ownership of impressionism, 20th-century American and European painting and Chinese art.
“The Ganeks give artworks that are not represented in the collection,” says Cheryl Brutvan, curator of contemporary art. “Something like Sigmar Polke would be absolutely impossible to consider for the museum’s acquisition budget.” / After three years /
The gift makes the museum a destination for contemporary art in South Florida, where the competition for such material is fierce. (In addition to a strong set of private museums founded by contemporary art collectors, Miami is home to three public institutions specializing in the field.)
With regard to artnet News, the Ganeks could not agree on how long they had collected. Was it 25 years or 40? Was their first piece by Louis Valtat or Cindy Sherman? “We thought: what are we going to do with all art?” Said Judie Ganek. “Howard decided one day and he did not even tell me!”
She admitted that they usually make more effort to visit museums in New York, where they spend half a year, than the Norton. The couple is enthusiastic about the transformative power of their gift for the Florida museum, Judie Ganek added: “I think the museum is going to be great.”
Additional reporting by Sarah Cascone.