UC Riverside ARTSblock Receives Major Gift from Collector

Computer programmer and philanthropist Peter Norton donates contemporary works of art

Photo courtesy of UCR ARTSblock

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) – The California Museum of Photography (CMP) and Jack and Marilyn Sweeney Art Gallery at the University of California, Riverside’s ARTSblock will receive more than 70 works of art created between 1975 and 2005 from the collection of computer programmer and philanthropist Peter Norton. A majority of the works date from the early 1990s.

“UCR ARTSblock is deeply honored to be chosen as one of the new homes for Norton’s collection of contemporary art,” said Tyler Stallings, interim executive director at UCR’s ARTSblock. “The spirit of this remarkable collection parallels CMP’s and Sweeney Art Gallery’s adventurous and progressive pursuit of new work, new ideas, and extraordinary visual content. Norton’s generous gift reinforces our ongoing commitment to showcasing artists who make new inquiries into such fundamental issues as race, gender, class, and politics. And his support of emerging artists over the past two decades parallels ARTSblock’s commitment to incubating new, inventive, and at times controversial, artistic production.”

This major gift is one in a series of donations of art from Norton’s personal collection, passed on to selected university art museums throughout the country to support the integration of the visual arts in higher education, foster creative museum practice, and engage diverse audiences with contemporary art.

“The collection builds on our interest in acquiring works that reflect the institution’s exhibition history and specific university context,” said Stallings.

ARTSblock’s CMP will receive nearly 20 works by contemporary photographers, including Anna Gaskell, Mike Kelley, Andres Serrano, Wolfgang Tillmans, Inez Van Lamsweerde, and Gillian Wearing, marking a new emphasis in the CMP’s collection. The museum was founded in 1973 with a donation to UCR of 2,500 cameras. Within the decade, additional major donations were made, expanding the museum’s holdings to include fine art photography and historic stereographic images and related apparatus.

“The museum continues to be known both for those important historical collections on which it was founded and its adventurous exhibitions of contemporary artists,” said Joanna Szupinska-Myers, curator of exhibitions at CMP. “With the addition of significant works by artists of our own era from Peter Norton’s collection, we significantly enrich our contemporary collection and extend the emphasis we’ve placed on current art in the last years of the CMP’s exhibition program.”

The Jack and Marilyn Sweeney Art Gallery will receive nearly 60 works by some of today’s leading contemporary artists, including Kevin Appel, Don Bachardy, Nayland Blake, Tony Feher, Rachel Lachowicz, Jennifer Pastor, Alexis Smith, and Jeffrey Vallance. “The gift includes works by a number of artists who have been featured in past exhibitions such as Sean Duffy and Ruben Ochoa, along with artists who are professors in UCR’s art department such as Jim Isermann, and other artists who build on strengths in the collection, such as artists from Southern California like Mike Kelley, Jim Shaw, and Monica Majoli.”

In 2000, Norton initiated a similar large donation project, gifting over 1,000 pieces from his personal collection to 32 institutions. The current initiative is his second such major undertaking.

Norton is best known for his namesake antivirus software and computer books. Starting in the late 1980s he began to amass what is now one of the largest contemporary art collections in the United States. “Collections reflect the sensibility of the collector. I like to buy the work of artists in their early careers, not only as it supports, encourages, and gives heart to them, but also as it does the same for their contemporaries. I also tend to be drawn to work that reflects non-mainstream backgrounds: feminist art and art from Black, Hispanic and Asian cultures,” Norton explained.

“Just as UCR reflects California’s diverse culture, Norton’s fabulous gift of art to UCR reflects a broad range of contemporary artistic expression,” said Milagros Peña, dean of UCR’s College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. “I would like to express my profound thanks to Norton, who has substantially raised the profile of ARTSblock and its art collections with this generous gift. This gift reinforces ARTSblock as a major presence in the art world. As the university itself, ARTSblock is a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration – through exhibition, film, performance, and archives – of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and the nation.”

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-5893
E-mail: mojgan.sherkat@ucr.edu
Twitter: mojgansherkat

Additional Contacts

Tyler Stallings
Tel: (951) 827-5191
E-mail: tyler.stallings@ucr.edu

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