Collectors Evening 2016 Secures Four New Acquisitions for the High Museum of Art
February 9, 2016
ATLANTA, Feb. 9, 2016 –More than 200 guests supported the acquisition of four new works of art for the High Museum of Art’s permanent collection at Collectors Evening on Jan. 29, 2016, at The St. Regis Atlanta. The acquired pieces are Vik Muniz’s photograph “Vik, 2 Years Old” (2014); “The Dirty Spoon Cafe” (2002), a hand-tooled leather work by Georgia-born artist Winfred Rembert; James Henry Daugherty’s oil on canvas “Portrait of Industrial Designer, John Vassos” (ca. 1935); and “Indian Country” (2015), by abstract artist Stanley Whitney.
“Collectors Evening offers the rare opportunity for attendees to directly participate in building the High’s permanent collection—and for our curators to engage in a bit of friendly competition,” said Rand Suffolk, the High’s Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr., director. “Everyone was enthralled by the evening’s spirited presentations and delighted to have the chance to secure these superb works of art for the High.”
One of the selected works, Muniz’s “Vik, 2 Years Old,” will be featured in the High’s upcoming retrospective “Vik Muniz,” which will open on Feb. 28, 2016. The other works will go on view in the Museum’s permanent collection galleries by March 2016.
Collectors Evening, established in 2010 to build the Museum’s permanent collection, invites guests to take an active role in choosing the next works of art to join the permanent collection. During the evening, each of the High’s curators presents a work of art as a potential new acquisition. Guests then cast their votes, and the High purchases the works of art that receive the most votes.
Following the selection of the Muniz, Rembert and Daugherty works during the rounds of voting, additional pledged support from event attendees allowed the High also to acquire the Whitney painting.
More information about this year’s acquisitions is below:
“Vik, 2 Years Old” (2014) by Brazilian-American photographer Vik Muniz (b. 1961) was acquired for the High’s photography collection. Muniz is distinguished as one of the most innovative and creative artists of the 21st century. Renowned for creating what he calls “photographic delusions,” Muniz works with a dizzying array of unconventional materials to painstakingly design narrative subjects before recording them with his camera. This large-scale photograph (approximately 8 by 6 feet) is from the artist’s “Album” series, in which he draws inspiration from specific typologies found in family photo albums of the early 20th century. Muniz fastidiously builds replicas of those generic and yet familiar moments by collecting thousands of discarded vernacular snapshots at flea markets, cutting them up into small pieces and pasting them together as a collage to form a scene. This photograph is a re-creation of a snapshot of the artist himself when he was 2 years old. “Vik, 2 Years Old” is the fourth work by Muniz to enter the Museum’s collection and is a perfect complement to the High’s self-portrait of Muniz as a mature artist, “Khyber Pass, Self-Portrait as an Oriental, after Rembrandt,” from the “Pictures of Junk” series (2005).
Folk and Self-Taught Art
The work acquired for the folk and self-taught art department is “The Dirty Spoon Cafe” (2002), a large-scale, hand-tooled leather work by Georgia-born artist Winfred Rembert (b. 1945). Rembert’s intricately detailed and vibrantly colored leather paintings document the joy and suffering of his personal odyssey through the Jim Crow South, from the good times he celebrated at all-black establishments like the Dirty Spoon Cafe to the forced labor he endured as a prisoner in a chain gang. This lively nightlife scene is a stunning example of Rembert’s facility with leather, which he dyes, paints, tools and varnishes. The rhythmic, interlocking figures in the work recall the dynamic scenes of African American life by great artists like Archibald Motley, Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence. This is the first work by Rembert to enter the High’s collection and complements other works such as the brightly painted wood relief carvings by Elijah Pierce and Herbert Singleton and Jessie Telfair’s “Freedom Quilt.”
James Henry Daugherty’s oil on canvas “Portrait of Industrial Designer, John Vassos” (ca. 1935) was acquired for the American art collection. Among American modernists, Daugherty (1887–1974) was one of the first exponents of abstract color painting, which he often incorporated into his figurative works. Daugherty’s vibrant portrait of the prominent industrial designer John Vassos aligns the artist’s strengths in pictorial narrative with his modernist commitment to color and abstraction. In the painting, Vassos—an icon of modern design best known for his graphic art and his 1933 design of the now ubiquitous subway turnstile—appears embedded in a space of his own design. Bands of bright, jolting color layer in abstract, pulsating forms around Vassos, who is depicted at ease, leaning back in a traditional wood-slat chair—a curious contrast to the deco graphics and hard-edged design most associated with the sitter. This portrait is the first in the High’s collection to feature an industrial designer and offers an excellent example of the important early-20th-century experiments with color theory and abstraction.
Modern and Contemporary Art
“Indian Country” (2015), by New York–based artist Stanley Whitney (b. 1946) was acquired for the department of modern and contemporary art. The 6-foot-square painting is composed as an irregular, multi-colored grid. The adjacent squares produce a vibration of optical color and generate a rhythm across the surface of the canvas—vertically, horizontally and diagonally. Whitney has said that color is the subject of his work and that each color has its own autonomy while corresponding to its neighbor. Whitney’s grid paintings of recent years are variations on a theme that evokes Ornette Coleman’s jazz improvisations and painter Morgan Russell’s “synchromies” of the early 20th century. As in the work of the Synchromists, color in Whitney’s paintings suggests the synesthetic blending of the senses—“hearing” color, “seeing” sound. His work also resonates with the abstract painting of fellow Yale University alumni Peter Halley and Chris Martin. “Indian Country” complements important works in the Museum’s collection by Martin and Halley as well as paintings by Katherine Bernhardt, Sam Gilliam, Mary Heilmann, Ellsworth Kelly, Sean Scully and Joan Snyder.
Collectors Evening Support
Presenting Sponsor Delta Air Lines is the official airline of Collectors Evening 2016. Additional support is provided by Avyve, BNY Mellon, The St. Regis Atlanta, the Tavistock Group and the Private Wealth Group of Arnall Golden Gregory. The event was co-chaired by Suzanne Kasler Morris and Michelle Sullivan.
About the High Museum of Art
The High is the leading art museum in the southeastern United States. With more than 15,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High Museum of Art has an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American art; a substantial collection of historic and contemporary decorative arts and design; significant holdings of European paintings; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography, folk and self-taught art, and African art. The High is also dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists. Through its education department, the High offers programs and experiences that engage visitors with the world of art, the lives of artists, and the creative process. For more information, visit high.org.
About The Woodruff Arts Center
The Woodruff Arts Center is one of the largest arts centers in the world, home to the Tony Award–winning Alliance Theatre, the Grammy Award–winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the High Museum of Art, the leading art museum in the Southeast. Each year, these centers of artistic excellence play host to more than 1.2 million patrons at The Woodruff Arts Center’s midtown Atlanta location, one of the only arts centers in the United States to host both visual and performing arts on a single campus. The Woodruff Arts Center also offers remarkable educational programming through each of its arts partners. Through the combined efforts of its arts partners, The Woodruff Arts Center serves more than 300,000 students annually and is the largest arts educator in Georgia. www.woodruffcenter.org
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High Museum of Art