American Painting and Sculpture
The Norton Simon Museum is home to a distinguished collection of American art from the 20th century. Early in his collecting, Norton Simon purchased a collage by Helen Frankenthaler, and would continue to collect works by Ronald Davis, Ed Ruscha, Josef Albers and Alexander Calder. In 1974, Simon took over the Pasadena Art Museum, merging its superb collection of American 20th-century art with his own and signaling the collection’s ascent to a position of prominence on the West Coast. With this one significant transaction, paintings by artists such as Lyonel Feininger, Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin and Frank Stella carried Simon’s original core collection into the later 20th century. Sculptures by such formidable artists as Marcel Duchamp, Robert Rauschenberg, Donald Judd, Andy Warhol, Dan Flavin and Carl Andre expand the range of the collection to include American modernism.
Post-war California art is well represented with striking abstractions from the Bay Area artists Hassel Smith, Frank Lobdell, Richard Diebenkorn and Jay DeFeo. Particularly strong are the paintings by Southern California artists Emerson Woelffer, Sam Francis, John Altoon and Billy Al Bengston. An assortment of sculptures by Edward Kienholz, Robert Irwin, Bruce Conner, George Herms, Helen Pashgian, Peter Alexander and Larry Bell round out the collection, with exquisite ceramic examples from Peter Voulkos and John Mason.