Friday, June 19, 2015

Norton Simon: Tête-à-Tête

The Norton Simon is probably my favorite museum in Los Angeles. It's small and intimate, yet despite the museum's small size, it is able to give visitors a taste of art from different time periods and regions. In college I would frequently go to the Norton Simon just to reflect and unwind in a peaceful, quiet space surrounded by beautiful works of art. When I heard a few months ago about the museum's collaboration with the Musée d'Orsay, my favorite museum in Paris, in an exhibition called Tête-à-tête, I knew I had to stop in to revisit. Since last week marked my first week of summer vacation, the timing was perfect.

While my photographic tour of the Norton Simon may not be as comprehensive as someone such as the famous, lovable nun, Sister Wendy, I will attempt to give you a brief taste of what the museum has to offer, starting with one of my favorite features: the sculpture garden. The sculpture garden features a pond, along with native plants and trees. It's fun to take a stroll through the garden to look at the art, some of which ranges from bizarre to very sensuous.

Inside the museum you will find European artwork dating from the 14th to the 20th century. As you can see from the photos below, my preference is for Impressionism, Post-Expressionism, and Modern and Contemporary works. Basically art from the last hundred and fifty years. From Degas to Cézanne to van Gogh and Picasso, this museum features a broad spectrum of major artists.

The museum also has an impressive collection of Asian art. Sadly, I took quite a few art history classes in college and much of the information has receded into the depths of my brain. As they say, if you don't use it you lose it, and since art is not something that factors into my work and daily life, I don't remember all of the nuances that I did in college.

Saving the best for last is my main reason for visiting the museum: the Tête-à-tête exhibit. Basically, the exhibit consists of three masterpieces from the Musée d'Orsay on loan to the Norton Simon. In return, the Norton Simon loaned three of their paintings to Paris. The three works from France were Paul Cézanne’s Card Players, Édouard Manet’s Portrait of Émile Zola and James MacNeill Whistler's Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1, better known as "Whistler's Mother". Since it's one of the most recognizable paintings by an American artist and has been parodied numerous times, seeing the paining, much like seeing the Mona Lisa or Starry Night, in person is much like seeing a celebrity.

Unfortunately, this exhibit closes in a few days, but, regardless, I highly recommend the Norton Simon, as there are so many other treasures to discover. If you simply must see "Whistler's Mother" you could always fly to Paris!


  1. Katie, I try to come to your blog and not drool all over the comments, I really do, but I can't help myself. These photographs are beautiful and this museum looks like such a wonderful experience, thanks for sharing it with us! If I'm ever out that way I'm definitely putting it on my places to go list. Happy weekend! XO -Kim

    1. Thank you so much Kim! Definitely put the Norton Simon on your to do list if you are in the Pasadena/Los Angeles area. It's easy to take gorgeous photos of it, since it is such a beautiful place! Have a great rest of you weekend!


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