Modern and Contemporary Art

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Buffalo Blue, 1977

Norman Zammitt

American, b. Canada, 1931-2007
Acrylic paint on canvas
72-1/2 x 132 in.
Norton Simon Museum, Gift of Robert Davidson, in memory of Eric Michael Davidson
P.2007.2
© 2011 Estate of Norman Zammitt

Not on view

Although he was born in Toronto, Norman Zammitt went on to leave an indelible mark on the Southern California art scene. Zammitt received degrees from both Pasadena City College and Otis College of Art and Design, and later taught art at the University of Southern California, University of California, Los Angeles and California Institute of the Arts. His exposure to OpArt and interest in color theory led him to create an extraordinary body of work that encompasses sculpture, lithography and painting. He has been included in such collections as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Norman Zammitt’s artistic production revolved around what he called “the progression of color.” Zammitt proclaimed that he had “no head for mathematics” as a student but later found himself using calculations for the gradation and spacing of color; he even consulted with scholars at the California Institute of Technology on such topics as the growth rates of organic material.

Buffalo Blue was created in 1977 at Zammitt’s Pasadena studio on the corner of Fair Oaks and Colorado, not far from the Norton Simon Museum. Several layers of gradated colors create the effect of one color leading into the next. His abstract “color progressions” have often been perceived as landscapes, a fact that didn’t bother Zammitt, since he saw his work as “organic.”

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