High Museum of Art
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Prior to arriving, I scanned online for coupons. Admission is $14.50. Children, ages 6 and below, are free. Unable to find any, I did notice a note on their website about advance tickets being unavailable due to network outages. Arrived on Friday, July 5th, morning to a crowd. Waited in line for sometime to pay for admittance.
What captivated me early on about the High was their acceptance and inclusion of furniture, ceramics, stonework, folk art, glass, silverware, etc., as pieces of art. History on display by creative pursuits from a broad range of talent. Unfortunately, some of the early American pieces of furniture were by unknown makers, though their original location was known.
The High Museum of Art is vast. Multiple floors (LL, L, 2, 3) with a winding circular style of room after room leaves one feeling a bit lost. Throughout my visit, I struggled with whether or not a room had already been viewed. Definitely grab a brochure at point of entry if you think it will help. My advice is put on some sneakers and be prepared to walk.
Some of the furniture was so ornate (Vanderbilt pieces) and indulgent I pondered how someone ever actually sat or slept in such lavishness. Others were primitive, painted colorfully with wooden texture shining through and minimal design. Honestly, diversity abounds at the High. Furniture was not my first, or last, example of this.
why the high museum of art?
Growing up in Metro Atlanta, the High has usually been a cultural resource for special occasions. When I was younger, Chinese cultural art and King Tut’s exhibit beckoned, among others. One of my goals for visiting the High Museum of Art this time was to view European Masterworks: The Phillips Collection (ended July 14th, 2019). European masterworks have always appealed to me.
The Phillips Collection, founded in Washington D.C., is the innovative work of Duncan Phillips (1886-1966). Phillips is known for opening the first museum of modern art in the United States circa 1921. Best defined, the style collected includes Impressionism, Expressionism, Cubism, etc. Renown artists include Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, etc.
Throughout the museum, chairs are available for reclining. Most are well positioned in front of a painting or piece of art. An elevator can be used to traverse floors, unless you prefer stairs or the winding walkway at the center of the building which leads to exhibit after exhibit.
Many pieces of art are stored behind glass, whether boxed or framed. Touching is prohibited. Looking too closely at the glass was not supported either (one guy wanted to see brush strokes). And attire varied. Many opted for comfort. Others wore nice outfits. Definitely would not say anyone dressed formal.
Something truly appreciated was the creativity present behind large works of mixed-media art. Mixed-media artwork is designed by using more than one medium or material. Radcliffe Bailey’s work above is an example of this. Another example of inventive craft, not shown, includes Robert Rauschenberg who produced art by “Combines”. Combine painting is a technique characterized as a hybrid between painting and sculpture.
An interesting part of the High is not really knowing what will be around the corner. A marble sculpture? A chair made of cast iron and silk upholstery? Cubism? Screenprinted Plexiglas? The compilation of craftsmanship was so assorted it was akin to Forrest Gump’s proclamation of a box of chocolates, “You never know what you’re gonna get”. Time passed quickly.
other pieces i enjoyed:
As a photographer, the lower level of exhibited photography left a bit of anticipation. The High is known for having a strong photography collection, given they started collecting the medium in the early 1970s. A progressive move on their part.
Unfortunately, a good many of their photographs are not shown. Due to their policy of rotating exhibits, numerous are stored. My advice is be aware of the photographer’s work on display prior to your trip.
Most of the work I saw this time were monochromes by Clarence John Laughlin (1905-1985), a surrealist photographer with a massive archive of images depicting the American South.
The High Museum of Art is worth $14.50 admission.