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Getting Cultured at Norton Simon Museum

The Norton Simon museum is world famous for its European and Southeast Asian art collections. It is located in Pasadena, so it is easy to get to by bike or by car. Even better, students with ID can visit all the exhibits for FREE while general admission is $12.

I went this afternoon with a group of Lloydies and summer students. Some people decided to bike, but I was lazy and decided to hitch a ride with an upperclassman with a car. I’m not a huge museum fanatic. I have a membership to LACMA and I’ve been there twice, for a total of 3 hours. For me, the novelty of an art collection wears off really quickly. At first, I am like "WOW, this artist’s brush strokes are so impressive, I love his/her style." Then three paintings later, I start thinking "this is just like the last and the last and the last." I was not sure how much I would enjoy the Norton Simon, since I prefer Surrealism and Pop Art. On the other hand, other people on this trip claim that they get lost in museums for hours at a time.

I was thoroughly impressed by the Picasso, Degas, Monet, Renault and Cézanne. I tried my best to read the descriptions of the paintings, but I was still the first to breeze through the exhibits. I probably spent more time in the gift shop than in any exhibit hall.

One thing I noticed was that the Renaissance and Contemporary paintings all had terrible names. I saw at least 10 "Portrait of a Woman" and variations of that title like "Woman with a Scarf". The still lifes were just as dull sounding: "Grapes", "Bowl of Fruits", "Flowers"… Thank you Captain Obvious. I decided to entertain myself by coming up with more creative titles for some works. Here are a few:

CanvasEatsFirst (#cameraeatsfirst)

Before Mirror Selfies Were Cool

Size 00000 (or Legs For Days)

Those Squats Killed My Glutes

Apart from goofing around, I learned quite a lot. Degas was going blind, so he sculpted models out of clay to feel as a reference for his paintings. Monet’s struggle with depression made his boat paintings too dark and abstract to sell. Representation of Buddhist gods were fairly similar across ancient Nepalese, Cambodian, Thai, and Indian populations.

I’m not sure if I am any more cultured now.

Sunny Cui ’20

Option: Electrical Engineering

House Affiliation: Lloyd

Graduation Year: 2020

Sunny is from Vancouver, BC where it rains over 200 days a year. At Caltech, she serves on the excomm of the Caltech Y and Society of Women Engineers, and plays piano with the chamber music program. When she is not doing sets and lab work, she enjoys hiking, shopping, cooking, drawing, and scouring the internet for items to add to her never-ending bucket list.