There happen to be two separate suites of prints on the theme of "The Temptation of St. Anthony" in "Rembrandt to Rauschenberg." The temptations they present are nothing compared with what Nick Norton faces every time he goes into an art gallery. "For three years I could not go into an art gallery," says the collector and Buffalo lawyer. "Twice I went in to see if I could resist some print that I desperately wanted. I failed. It's an addiction, but a very enjoyable addiction."
Norton was first tempted into print collecting by his father, F. Paul Norton. The elder Norton was a World War I pilot who fell in love with impressions depicting the derring-do of the flying aces. Nick Norton bought his first print when he was at Yale Law School, in his senior year. "It was a Miro," he recalls. (The print, a whimsical lithograph called "Le Jour," is on display in the exhibition.)
From there he paid a visit to the gallery of fellow-Buffalonian David Anderson in New York City where he purchased a splashy - and expensive - print by the American Sam Francis. Soon he was deep into collecting, a passion that has continued unabated through the years, with hiatuses for such important life events as getting his two kids through college.
Prints were everywhere, he says, in his house and office, in the home of his son and daughter. Giving the collection to the Albright-Knox appealed to him. Prints that he knew and loved for some many years would remain together, and perhaps help nurture an understanding of printmaking by young people with fresh eyes for this ancient art. Norton reports that some prints didn't come with the gift, however. "I still have a print by Leonard Baskin of a hanged man. He and I have read the newspaper together for too many years. I couldn't let that go."