Peter Norton's legendary modern art collection could bring $25m at Christie's
Christie's has announced the auction of a major selection of the remarkable Peter Norton Collection of contemporary art, assembled over more than two decades by one of the world's most pioneering collectors, entrepreneurs and philanthropists.

A Single Owner grouping of 60 lots will be offered throughout the Evening and the Day Sales, November 8th and 9th, and is expected to achieve in excess of $25m, as many of the works represent the leading artists of the contemporary art world.

The pre-sale exhibition will offer visitors an eye-opening survey of contemporary art, as well as a unique glimpse into the world of a fascinating and very prescient collector.

This sale will highlight Mr. Norton's enterprising spirit to collectors who are new to the endeavour, including those in emerging markets for contemporary art.

In conjunction with this sale Christie's will develop the educational potential of the auction by presenting special lectures in Moscow, Hong Kong and London addressing the question: "What is the responsibility of a contemporary art collector?"

Peter Norton comments, "Collections reflect the sensibility of the collector; I tend to be drawn to artworks that have ideas embedded in them, but not works that are dryly conceptual.

"One of my ideals for an art work 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 early in their 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 artists.

"I believe in the circulation of cultural objects; the opportunity for them to be seen in different contexts by different people. We have long been donating works to museums we're involved in, and now is a time to be increasing that.

"The sale will allow us to further our giving in other ways, as the proceeds will go towards establishing a new charitable trust."

Contemporary art Paul McCarthy Tomato Head
Cutting edge veg: Paul McCarthy's Tomato Head

A legendary figure in California's Silicon Valley, Peter Norton created a series of highly successful software programs including the pioneering Norton™ AntiVirus, later merging his self-named company into Symantec.

Bringing this same passion for inventiveness to the world of art, he became one of the most active and adventurous collectors of the work of emerging artists, especially those with fresh formal ideas and strong points of view.

In 2000, over 1,000 works from the collection were gifted to a total of 32 institutions, large and small, in the single largest donation made of contemporary art.

As a philanthropist, he has also made important contributions to schools and performing arts organizations in addition to serving as a trustee of various institutions, including, The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Norton's collection is another example of a substantial art collection assembled by a pioneering software designer and philanthropist like Bill Gates and Paul Allen - though the three collections are very different.

Brett Gorvy, Chairman and International Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art, comments: "At once cool and controversial, the Peter Norton Collection embodies the spirit of a true visionary in contemporary art collecting.

"Encompassing artists who are today recognized as major talents, years after Peter Norton began supporting them, as well as artists who are considered to be emerging; this wide-ranging yet highly selective collection includes important works from Christopher Wool and Takashi Murakami to Charles Ray and Kara Walker."

As one of the most highly regarded groupings of Contemporary Art works ever privately assembled, the Peter Norton Collection includes a broad range of 60 works from such blue-chip artists as Robert Gober, Paul McCarthy, Nam June Paik, Fred Tomaselli, Christopher Wool and Maurizio Cattelan among others.

Many of the works address issues of racial and sexual identity, politics and the human condition.

The collection reflects major themes of art of the time, but also its place: Los Angeles, which became in the 1980s-90s a major focal point for artists working there like Charles Ray, as well as for galleries that promoted and supported not only American art but also international artists like Takashi Murakami.

As a result, Los Angeles became an extraordinary source of creative energy - one that has continued to evolve and expand in the years since with the support of major collectors like Peter Norton.

Watch this space for more news of this exciting New York auction.


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