Galleries: Two Superb Exhibitions at Palm Beach’s Norton Museum

The charming, architecturally interesting Norton Museum of Art in Palm Beach, tucked discreetly into a city block in West Palm, hosted international journalists covering the AIFAF recently for a tour of two important new exhibitions, the Habsburg Treasures Renaissance tapestries, and iconic fashion photography of Richard Avedon, whose images revolutionized American fashion magazines.

 

Small, modern and intimate, the Museum’s spaces are ideal for both these disparate exhibitions. The Avedon exhibit, the first ever devoted exclusively to the photograher’s fashion work,  features over 150 items, including photographs from throughout his productive career, as well as original magazines showing the work in context and materials demonstrating his creative process. Organized by International Center for Photography Curator Carol Squiers and Adjunct Curator Vince Aletti, with the cooperation of The Richard Avedon Foundation, the exhibit is extensive. Ms. Squiers toured journalists through the exhibition, being mounted and labeled. “No photographs,” we were admonished.

Special exhibits at the Norton Museum


Part of the visual, visceral experience was seeing vintage photographs of models, such as Carmen, Dovima, and Suzy Parker, and the singular image shot backstage at the Folies Bergere, which was then deemed too racy to publish, owing to the abbreviated costumes on the performers. Avedon, a discovery of the fabled editor Diana Vreeland, created a style alive with movement, and set models in unusual situations. The exhibition is kinetic and arresting.

An exterior metal sculpture


In a dimly lit large exhibition hall, the Museum is hosting the premiere exhibition of Renaissance Tapestries from the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, enormous, beautifully restored masterpieces from the Hapsburg Treasures. Commissioned by the Habsburg rulers of the Holy Roman Empire, this complete suite of eight, palace-size tapestries depicts one of the most compelling secular themes in the 16th-century repertoire of Flemish tapestry-making: the legendary founding of ancient Rome by Romulus and Remus. The series begins with the birth of the two brothers, when they were placed in a basket and set afloat on the Tiber River, and ends with the legendary Rape of the Sabine Women. These masterpieces of the loom are both massive and exquisite: measuring from 11 to 12 feet in height, and from 12 to 18 feet in length, they were woven from wool, silk, and both gold and silver thread. The stunning exhibition comprises a complete suite, never before exhibited outside Austria.

 

Curator Carol Squiers in the Norton lobby

Completely restored, the tapestries each had 16” added during the process of cleaning and restoration, which took about a year, and is available on a DVD at he Museum. Tapestries, a status symbol of the wealthy in the 15th and 16th centuries, are drawing new interest and attention. The new Director of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas P. Campbell, was formerly the head of the institution’s tapestries department.

Dovima, evening dress by Jacques Fath, Paris studio, August 1950

 

At The Breakers Hotel and Resort on Palm Beach Island, the bar and lobby are filled with tapestries, befitting the resort’s Italian Renaissance style.

 

The Norton Museum's permanent collection includes over 5,000 works, with a concentration in American, European and Chinese art as well as contemporary art and photography.


Both exhibitions at the Norton Museum of Art run through early May. For information, go to www.Norton.org.

 

Veruschka, Dress by Kimberly, New York, January 1967

Romulus Brings Numitor Amulius' Head Detail, Habsburg Treasures (detail)

Romulus Brings Numitor Amulius' Head, full tapestry

 

 

 

 Images by Newport Seen and courtesy of the Norton Museum


 

 

 

  
 


 

 

 

 

 

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