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Allan McCollum. Plaster Surrogates. 1982/84 Enamel on Hydrostone.

Minimal to the Max: The Brownstone Collection
11/22/2003 - 3/7/2004

This is the international debut exhibition of one of the most important gifts to the Norton Museum of Art in recent decades: the Brownstone Collection of 62 Minimalist works assembled by Gilbert and Catherine Brownstone of Palm Beach and Paris. More than 30 works from this gifted collection will be on view from November 22, 2003 to March 7, 2004. Artists represented in the exhibition include Josef Albers, Lucio Fontana, Gottfried Honegger, Imi Knoebel, Sol LeWitt, Allan McCollum, Robert Mangold, Olivier Mosset, Jean-Pierre Raynaud, and Ed Ruscha. According to the donors, additional gifts to the Museum are also planned.

The Brownstone collection is unique for its inclusion of both European and American artists. Few museums can boast such compelling works of Minimalist art created on both sides of the Atlantic. The collection's international perspective owes much to Gilbert Brownstone's position as a gallery owner and curator in France, which enabled him to see Minimalism's effect on the international art world more clearly than most. As a whole the collection reflects the intelligence, austere beauty, and international breadth of the Minimalist movement.

Christina Orr-Cahall, Museum Director, comments, "With the addition of the Brownstone Collection, the Norton is now able to present its audience with a fuller picture of late twentieth-century art. A significant portion of the gift is comprised of work by artists not previously represented at the Museum, particularly European artists. The Museum is most grateful to Gilbert and Catherine Brownstone for donating this collection to us."

Of the donated works Gilbert Brownstone writes, "I have never considered myself a collector in the truest sense of the word. I bought these paintings because I needed their inner power to get me through a period of great loss in my life. Many of them are simple to the point of complexity and evoke a very spiritual response from the viewer. We had just bought a house in the area when we first visited the Museum and I realized that these works of art could form the foundation of an important collection to be shared with the public. More important, many of these artists are not known in America, and their presence at the Norton provides the ideal opportunity for visitors to become familiar with their works."

The "simplicity to the point of complexity" of which Brownstone writes is evident in many of the works he collected. Such simplicity is easy to recognize in the bold, iconic crosses and circles painted by the French artist Olivier Mosset, the clean lines and clear geometry of sculpture and drawings by American Sol LeWitt, or the broad planes of color in the paintings of German artist Imi Knoebel. The complex nature of the work can be perceived in the mathematical and geometric precision with which LeWitt maps out his sculptures, the regularity and repetition of the painted squares of cardboard that compose Gottfried Honegger's Relief Picture Z 769 (1977), or the multiple meanings suggested by Ed Ruscha's No Wonder Humans Can't Get Jobs (1984) or Hydraulic Muscles Pneumatic Smiles (1983). Even a sculpture as unassuming as Larry Bell's Glass Cube (1987) can offer myriad interpretations, as each step viewers take alters their perception of the environment as seen through its glass sides.

As an awareness of Minimalism spread throughout the art world, its spare aesthetics were also reflected in other movements, such as Pop Art, which also emerged in the 1960s. This cross-pollination becomes apparent when one looks at John Michael Armleder and Sylvie Fleury's Untitled (Chanel) (1990), inspired by the packaging for Chanel No. 5 perfume; Andy Warhol's print Brillo (1970); or Allan McCollum's anonymous conglomeration of Ninety-Six Plaster Surrogates No. 4 (1982/89), a tongue-in-cheek commentary on mass production and seriality. Minimalist aesthetics can even be said to have informed the production of such seemingly unrelated objects as conceptual artist Robert Barry's Untitled (1988), a painting on paper in which words in white letters float across a robin's-egg-blue background; and earth artist Michael Heizer's Tool #15 (Awl III) (1988), a tapering cylinder over seven feet long made of volcanic ash and cement.

Exhibition Catalogue:
Published in conjunction with the debut exhibition of the Brownstone Collection is an illustrated essay by internationally renowned curator Eric de Chassey. Artists represented in the catalogue include Josef Albers, Lucio Fontana, Gottfried Honegger, Imi Knoebel, Sol LeWitt, Robert Mangold, Olivier Mosset, Jean-Pierre Raynaud, and Ed Ruscha. As a whole the collection reflects the intelligence, austere beauty, and international breadth of the Minimalist Movement. The catalogue is available in soft cover for $18.95 at the Norton Museum of Art store or online at www.norton.org.

Exhibition Event:
*Gallery Tour by Gilbert Brownstone, Sunday, February 15, 2:00 p.m.
Free with general admission: $8 for adults, $3 for visitors ages 13-21, and free for Members and children under 13.



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