Henry Pearlman was far from an expert in modern art when he began building one of the strongest collections of that tradition-shedding period in 1945. But he gradually became one by remaining open to wise advice and through his own obsessive curiosity.
Because it was defined by a spirit of experimentation, modern art doesn’t provide a simple-to-follow through-line, even for art aficionados. Yet walking through “Cézanne and the Modern: Masterpieces of European Art From the Pearlman Collection,” the touring exhibition opening Saturday at the High Museum of Art, director of collections and exhibitions David Brenneman pointed out a recurring quality in the art that caught the collector’s eye.
A lifelong New Yorker and an entrepreneur whose passion for modern art burned until his death in 1974, Pearlman “really responded to a kind of painting that he felt was genuine,” said Brenneman, who also is the High’s European art curator. “That guided his collection. He wasn’t trying to create a history of painting from the last 50 or 60 years. He was trying to buy things and live with things that he felt expressed a genuine emotion that came directly from the artist’s inner being.”
Before the international tour that brings the paintings and sculpture to the High through Jan. 11, the collection had remained on view at the Princeton University Art Museum since 1976. “Cézanne and the Modern,” then, is a rare opportunity to view this strong impressionist and post-impressionist cache.
With Brenneman as our guide, we focus on five highlights from the 50-work exhibition that features 24 works by Cézanne, including 16 fragile and seldom-exhibited watercolors.
To take the tour of paintings by Cézanne, van Gogh, Degas and Modigliani, go to our subscriber site, MyAJC.com.
“Cézanne and the Modern: Masterpieces of European Art From the Pearlman Collection”
Opening Oct. 25. Through Jan. 11. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays (until 9 p.m. Fridays), noon-5 p.m. Sundays. High Museum of Art. $19.50; $16.50 ages 65 and up and students (ID required); $12 ages 6-17. 1280 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta. 404-733-4444, www.high.org.