Norton’s New Season Includes Blockbuster Exhibits

This week, the Norton Museum of Art announced a pair of blockbuster exhibitions for its 2017-2018 season, while the construction of the New Norton continues apace.

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Opening Sept. 5, “Earth Works: Mapping the Anthropocene” combines science, art and environmentalism. In 2015 and 2016, Justin Brice Guariglia, a transdisciplinary artist from New York, saw firsthand the effects of Greenland’s melting glaciers when he joined NASA as part of its Operation IceBridge survey mission. His stirringly manipulated photographs from the mission comprise this striking collection of abstract photo-paintings, which doubles as a clarion call about sea level rise. Printed with an acrylic process Guariglia himself invented, the impossible-to-replicate aerial close-ups of “Earth Works” are both placid and tempestuous, astral and arctic, forcing us to look anew at the geography we’re slowly losing.

Washington Heights Model

“Earth Works” runs through Jan. 7, 2018. A few weeks later, on Jan. 25, the Norton will open “Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney: Sculpture,” another powerhouse show by the prominent arts patron who founded New York’s Whitney Museum. But as an heiress and socialite who was born into the Vanderbilt family, Whitney’s wealthy reputation has done her few favors as a working artist. As this exhibition illuminates, her sculptural work belied her cosseted life. Her portraits of World War I soldiers and working-class minorities revealed a boundless empathy for the less privileged, which came across in small-scale sculptures and massive public works alike. She is well past due for a reappraisal, and this career-spanning survey—remarkably, the first since her 1942 death—will provide one.

The Norton also announced this week four “Spotlight” shows: room-sized, limited-run mini-exhibitions that focus tightly on a particular subject, artist or genre. “Julie Mehretu: Epigraph, Damascus” (Sept. 5-Oct. 22) is a recently completed six-panel print consisting of deconstructed architectural renderings from the besieged Syrian capital. “BRILLIANT: Recent Acquisitions” (Oct. 26-Dec. 7) features works in paper, glass and photography that deploy vibrant, bold color. “Miss Lucy’s 3-Day Dollhouse Party” (Dec. 14, 2017-Feb. 4, 2018) features three dollhouse projects from Jupiter-based art collector Douglas Andrews, whose friends in the art world—including Julian Schnabel and Cy Twombly—contributed miniature artworks to adorn the houses. Finally, “Black History Black Futures” (Feb. 8-March 18, 2018) will be dedicated solely to black artists, and will be supplemented by special programming and lectures.

As always during reconstruction, the Norton remains free to all visitors throughout the 2017-2018 season. For more information, call 561/832-5196 or visit Norton.org. The museum is at 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach.