Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Norton Simon Museum

I had a wonderful birthday yesterday. Many of you sent birthday greetings, and I thank you. We had lunch with friends, after which John took me to Pasadena's Norton Simon Museum. I didn't want to have to organize anything, and John took care of the arrangements.

Norton Simon was apparently a smart man. He was certainly wealthy, and the Wikipedia article about him says he was good at making deals and managing his money. From the collection at the museum I'd say he made mostly excellent art deals. There are a few clunkers, noticeable because the museum is small. But the great stuff is so great that the clunkers don't matter. And one person's clunker is another person's masterpiece.

The Asian art collection is impressive. So is the Degas. Picasso is well represented. Brancusi. Rembrandt. Rubens. El Greco. Folks you've heard of, you know? There's an obsessive Canaletto I like to visit; a gorgeous "Reclining Nude" I'd never seen or heard of, by Watteau, whom I've also never seen, but I've heard of, of course. The one Modigliani they have is delectable. (Not for sale, though, and the guards didn't think that was funny.) We wandered the sculpture garden; a Henry Moore work called "King and Queen" charmed me. The Norton Simon also holds surprises, like portraits so fine you feel like you're in communion with the subject.

I'd link you to each piece, but on the Norton Simon's website you can search by collection or artist, so have at it and find your favorites!

I know how lucky I am that I got to do exactly what I wanted to do yesterday. Thank you for granting my birthday wish, sweetie. You're the best husband ever. Mushy mushy.

23 comments:

Dina said...

Happy birthday dear Petrea!
So glad you have the art treasures to visit and the husband treasure to cherish. Happy new year of life.

cieldequimper said...

Happy belated birthday! This is a great, great shot!

Julie said...

Such a good photograph. Just sucks you right on in. Love the B&W.

Katie said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful birthday! How fun to be at the Norton Simon museum looking at amazing art. It's good to have a few clunkers thrown in too, if only to make the good stuff look so much better. Yay to your hubby for making your day so special.

Virginia said...

Hang on to that man. He sounds like a keeper!!!
Love the BW on this photo. I laughed at the guard comment. THey are so very humorless in museums1
V

Shell Sherree said...

Happy birthday, Petrea! Sorry I'm so late here. With the time zones, I'm not sure what date your birthday is, but yours and my hubby's could possibly be on the same date. If not, they are within cooee of each other!

altadenahiker said...

Whenever I visit NS, I head straight for the Canaletto.

I really like this photo. They should use it in their brochure.

Happy day after.

Dianne Emley said...

What a wonderful surprise from thoughtful hubby. The Canaletto... I'll have to check it out, or have it with my coffee.

maria said...

oh the norton simon....what a little gem. i am glad to hear that you had a wonderful day.

J+P said...

Happiest of birthdays, best of wives. Is this a bad time to tell you I kyped that Rembrandt self-portrait? It's in my car, waiting for Christmas …

In truth, the Norton Simon is a mixed bag; looks to my eye like he snagged a lot of second-drawer work. (I picture ol' Nort opening Sotheby's or Christie's doors, just as a Getty agent stepped out with the best stuff under his arm.)

The Canaletto is a tight, detailed little work. Web images can't do it justice, but neither could a 3D Hollywood crew. The painter crammed his view into a small canvas with the rigid precision of a stereo-opticon view.

What was the man shooting up!? The piazzata's fa├žades are detailed as by an insane visionary—impastoed and perfect as an acid-dream. The sun on the pavement is unnaturally even. The crowded "humans" are like plastic architect's miniatures. The painting convinces, but holds your eyes like a car-wreck.

Perfect birthday fare!

Trish said...

Petrea---LOVE the shot. It captures what I remember from visits as a child to the NS! It did also give me a giggle---thinking of "Get Smart" and looking for doors and gates to come closing down---ESPECIALLY if that humourless guard took you seriously! ;-)

Keep that hubby---sounds like a good man! And a good choice for birthday doings. We always try to arrange a day like that to celebrate turning over another year on the calendar. Glad John got the agenda right!

Gotta agree the Canaletto is amazing--and so small for the grandiose picture it is presenting in such detail.

Keith said...

Happy belated Birthday! Any birthday where you get to do what you want to do is a good one.

USelaine said...

Oh, but I love the Norton Simon! Van Gogh's little mulberry tree always captivates me, and the de la Tour pastel of a man in a blue velvet jacket, and the painting of Joseph holding the infant Jesus, and...

Glad you had a great birthday, P. 6^)

Margaret said...

Love the Norton Simon. It's a very manageable scale, especially when you have kids in tow. Glad you had fun.

Petrea said...

Thanks, guys! I'm glad folks like the picture. Julie said "sucks you right on in" and honestly, the museum does that, too. Several views called to me like this one did. Whoever set it all up did a good job.

We met some fun guards, too, Virginia. Had a nice chat over by the Bellini.

3/23, Shell Sheree. Cooee!

Me too, Hiker. And the lemons. But they were out yesterday for servicing or something. Or Dianne had them with her coffee and canaletto.

Thank you, sweetie, but what I really wanted was the Ingres(another one for which a web image is insufficient). I felt as though I were meeting the man, and we visited across the ages.

Don't worry, Trish, the guards were perfectly lovely. They answered all our questions when asked, left us alone when we didn't. It's a classy facility.

Here's your de la Tour, Elaine. I recognized the painting, John knew the painter. Neither of us realized until yesterday that it's a self-portrait.

I agree, Margaret. One could spend a long afternoon there or a short one, but a whole day is too much.

Thanks for the birthday wishes, everyone. I'll keep my man and he'll keep me. We feel pretty good about it. We do lots of considering and thanking and being nice to each other. I wouldn't have thought it possible, but it gets better all the time. It doesn't hurt matters to live in a place we love and have loads of good friends.

GreensboroDailyPhoto said...

Zen Monday, a new meme to think about. So many photo meme's, so little time.

Enjoying your blog!

pasadenapio said...

Happy birthday! Isn't it fun to be a tourist in your own town?

J+P said...

… or in her own mind … you can get lost in there …

Ms M said...

sounds like an excellent thing to do on your birthday. You've got a good man. :>) I really enjoy art museums, and I love the photo, the way it grabs your eye and zooms you into the picture.

Susan C said...

- Fabulous photo
- Happy belated birthday
- You DO have a great guy - makes sure you have your perfect stew AND makes stew
- I passed "Dougnuts" tonight while I was driving up Lake Ave. I get a thrill when I recognize something from one of your photos.

Petrea said...

Hi Greensboro! Welcome, glad you stopped by. Zen Monday's not a meme, just a thing I do. Hope you enjoy it.

Ann, the blog has made me a tourist here and I love every second of it.

J--just so long as I don't get lost.

Thanks Ms. M.

Susan C: thank you thank you thank you and thank you! I'm thrilled that you get a thrill when you see something from one of my shots. That is so cool.

Kelly said...

This is a stunning shot, Petrea! Really beautifully done!

Petrea said...

Thank you so much, Kelly! Good to see you!