The High Museum of Art’s fifth annual Collectors Evening, Jan. 31 at the St. Regis Atlanta, provides intimate exposure to how the museum’s curators think about and work to enhance its permanent collection, now numbering 14,000 works. And patrons who attend the high-ticket affair also will be supporting the High acquisition of at least three major works.
Curators from six of the High’s collecting departments will present pieces being considered for acquisition, making their best cases why their selections should be the ones purchased.
High director of collections David Brenneman equates the pitches to the sport of boxing, but with no physical sparring. “Our curatorial team can’t wait to enter the ring for another round of competition this year,” said Brenneman, who, as curator of European art, will be among those taking their best figurative swings.
Started in 2010, Collectors Evening begins with a 6:30 p.m. reception during which attendees get face time with the High’s curators. Then there’s dinner, the curator presentations and, finally, patron voting rounds.
Over the four years of the event, 17 works have been acquired, including four last year: “Self Defense,” an oil on canvas by American genre painter George Henry Yewell; a Pende artist wooden mask from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; French artist Edmé-Alexis-Alfred Dehodencq’s “Self-Portrait”; and “Church Gate Station, Western Railroad Line, Bombay, India” by documentary photographer Sebastião Salgado.
This year’s proposed acquisitions are:
- From the African Art department, a Qur’an (16th to 18th century) from Mali and and a collection of nearly 800 African trade beads. The unbound small-scale prayer book features hand-written Arabic script on Venetian paper in a hand-tooled casing of goat hide.
- From the Modern and Contemporary Art department, Lyle Ashton Harris’ “Untitled (Silver Handcuffs)” (2007), originally created for a special issue of The New York Times focusing on the status of American people. This digital pigment print is from a special edition on silver foil.
- From the Decorative Arts and Design department, Jaime Hayon’s “Green Chicken” rocker (2008), lacquered fiberglass with metal base. The whimsical work was a “crazy dream” creation by the Spanish artist.
Robert Horwood's "Phonograph with Fedora" (circa 1934), oil on panel.
- From the American art department, Robert Horwood’s “Phonograph with Fedora” (circa 1934), an oil on panel in the Precisionist style that conjures the casual glamour of 1930s sophisticates.
- From the Photography department, Alex Prager’s “Simi Valley” (2014), an archival pigment print that’s more than 8 feet wide. Prager is known for staging scenes with the use of Hollywood sets and actors, the resulting images hovering ambiguously between documentary and fiction.
- From the European Art department, Danish artist Vilhelm Kyhn’s “Girl at a Window” (circa 1880), an oil on canvas that evokes the spirit of Danish Golden Age painting. It would become the first painting by a Scandinavian artist to enter the High’s collection.
Tickets, starting at $600, and additional information: www.high.org/collectorsevening.