The Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery has received a generous donation of 75 works of contemporary art from the collection of computer programmer and philanthropist Peter Norton. The gift, drawn from Norton’s personal collection, is the first in a series of donations to university and college art museums across the country–such as UC Berkley, Williams, and Brandeis. This marks the beginning of Norton’s second major series of donations, with his first being in 2000, when he donated over 1,000 pieces to 32 institutions.
You might know Peter Norton from his namesake antivirus software, which was released in 1991. But Norton is also the holder of one of the largest contemporary art collections in the country, which he began to amass starting in the late 80s. Concerning his own tastes, Norton writes:
One of my ideals for an artwork is that there are thoughts and ideas behind it, but that the work nevertheless has so much visual content that it appeals to viewers who have no understanding of those ideas. I am drawn more to works that are three-dimensional, as they connect better to the actual world, and 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’s gift to the Tang includes works by some of today’s leading contemporary artists, such as Polly Apfelbaum, Matthew Barney, Nicole Cherubini, Willie Cole, Renee Cox, David Hammons, Glenn Ligon, Gabriel Orozco, Lari Pittman, Martha Rosler, Erika Rothenberg, and Lorna Simpson, among others. The collection also adds many pieces to the museum’s photography collection, as it includes works by Sam Durant, Anna Gaskell, Louise Lawler, Malik Sidbe, and many others photographers.
The donation also includes works by a number of artists who have been featured in their own solo shows in the at the museum, including (but not limited to) Nayland Blake, Nicole Eisenman, Joseph Grigely, Martin Kersels–in addition to works featured in the Tang’s current exhibition I was a double.
“On behalf of the Tang Teaching Museum, I would like to express my profound thanks to Peter Norton, he has substantially raised the profile of the Museum’s collection with this generous gift,” says Ian Berry, the Museum’s Dayton Director. “It fits perfectly with our role as a laboratory for ideas and dialogue, where art serves as a catalyst for students, faculty, and the public to advance knowledge across disciplines. These works will enrich the many audiences who come to the Tang, including the students who work with us, the faculty and classes who study here, and the artists and museum visitors from near and far.”
Several pieces from Norton’s donation are on view in the exhibition I was a double, which runs in the Tang until Jan. 4, 2015.