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News Room

High Museum of Art to Host Fifth Annual Collectors Evening to Help Build Permanent Collection

January 6, 2015

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New acquisitions to be chosen from six proposed works from the High’s curatorial departments 

ATLANTA, Jan. 6, 2015 – The High Museum of Art will host the fifth annual Collectors Evening on Jan. 31, 2015 at The St. Regis Atlanta. Six works will be presented for acquisition during the evening from the High’s curatorial departments. Attendees will cast their ballots, and the High will purchase the works of art with the most votes. Collectors Evening is open to the public, and tickets and additional information may be found at

“Our curatorial team can’t wait enter the ring for another round of competition this year,” said David Brenneman, the High’s director of collections and exhibitions and Frances B. Bunzl Family curator of European art. “Making acquisitions for the Museum’s permanent collection is often an unsung, behind-the-scenes process, so Collectors Evening is a wonderful opportunity for the High to put the thrill of the chase for great art front and center.”

“Collectors Evening is a very special opportunity for our supporters to see curators share their passion for art while also having a direct say in the works that will become part of the cultural landscape of Atlanta,” said Michael E. Shapiro, the Museum’s Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr. director of the High. “Plus, the night is really a whole lot of fun.”

Collectors Evening was established in 2010 as a means to add works to the permanent collection. Following a reception during which attendees enjoy lively, face-to-face conversation with the High’s curators, the evening continues with dinner, presentations by each of the curators, and a few rounds of voting.

Since its inception, Collectors Evening attendees have selected a total of 17 acquisitions for the Museum. The four works acquired at the last Collectors Evening in 2013 were “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 include:

African Art
A Qur’an (ca. 16th-17th century) and a collection of beads from Timbuktu, Mali, comprise the proposed acquisition for the African art department. The book is a rare example of a sub-Saharan African Qur’an with fine, hand-written Arabic script on Venetian paper in a hand-tooled casing of goat hide. Like the earliest Qur’ans, this example is unbound, and its small scale suggests that it was carried in a pocket as a personal amulet. Also part of this proposed acquisition is a dazzling collection of nearly 800 beads including ancient stone beads, fossil beads in the form of sand dollars, African and European-manufactured glass trade beads from Venice and Czechoslovakia, and beads of semi-precious stones such as agate, carnelian, quartz and amazonite. Together, the Qur’an and beads represent a timeline of cross-cultural interactions between Timbuktu and other regions on the continent, with Europe, and beyond, throughout the ages.

American Art
The proposed acquisition for the American art department is Robert Horwood’s oil on panel “Phonograph with Fedora” (ca. 1934). In the painting, Horwood’s elegant and sleek phonograph conjures the casual glamour of the 1930s sophisticate with a stylized appearance recalling the graceful forms of the fashionable Art Deco aesthetic. Phonographs had become common household objects by the 1930s. With the equally ubiquitous fedora hat draped over one corner of the phonograph’s lid, Horwood accents the casual nature of the popular machine and enlivens the still life with the suggestion of narrative. The painting would be one of the first examples of the Precisionist style to enter the High’s collection.

Decorative Arts and Design
The decorative arts and design department proposes the whimsical rocker “Green Chicken” (2008) by Spanish designer Jaime Hayon as an acquisition. The unusual rocker is a self-described “crazy dream” by Hayon, reflected in the fanciful and dreamlike form of a giant stylized chicken in a bold green color. The “Green Chicken” was originally conceived as part of a project that explored the fusion of Eastern and Western craft and design approaches for a gallery in Shanghai. Originally entirely handmade by Chinese craftsmen, the subsequent limited edition of eight (from which the High’s acquisitions would be purchased) was constructed by Italian craftsmen. The lacquered fiberglass piece would be the first work by a Spanish designer to be added to the High’s growing holdings of international contemporary design and would be complimented by a charming porcelain figure titled “Rocking Chair Ride” featuring a child on the “Green Chicken,” as well as a photo of the designer on the piece by Dutch photographer Nienke Klunder.

European Art
Danish Romantic painter Vilhelm Kyhn’s “Girl at a Window” (ca. 1880) is being presented by the European art department. The oil-on-canvas work is a “picture within a picture” featuring a young woman observing the snow-laden winter landscape from a large window. The theme of the woman or girl in a domestic interior at or near a window can be traced back to the 17th century and to the works of certain Dutch artists like Johannes Vermeer. During the Romantic Period in the early 19th century, this theme became central to the work of Northern European artists, especially those working in Germany and Denmark. This quietly poetic painting by Kyhn captures the spirit of Danish Golden Age painting and would be the first painting by a Scandinavian artist to enter the High’s collection.

Modern and Contemporary Art
“Untitled (Silver Handcuffs),” (2007) by Lyle Ashton Harris is the proposed acquisition from the department of modern and contemporary art.  The image was originally created for a special issue of The New York Times focusing on the status of American people and produced as a pigmented inkjet print. “Untitled (Silver Handcuffs)” is a special edition of the image printed on silver foil. Harris’ diverse artistic practice includes photographic media, collage, installation and performance, and his work explores intersections between the personal and the political, examining the impact of ethnicity, gender and desire on the contemporary social and cultural dynamic. Harris particularly concerns himself with how gender and race are constructed and perceived through the representation of the black male body in the public sphere. Harris is the 2014 recipient of the High’s David C. Driskell Prize, an award recognizing a scholar or artist whose work makes an original and important contribution to the field of African American art or art history. If acquired “Untitled (Silver Handcuffs)” would be the only edition in a public collection.

“Simi Valley” (2014) by American photographer Alex Prager is the proposed work for the High’s photography collection. Prager has garnered international acclaim for her work in recent years, and she is known for staging scenes with the use of Hollywood sets and actors. The resulting images hover ambiguously between appearing documentary and fictional. There are often subtle references to images from the history of art within her photographs, as in this work, which draws compositional inspiration from a famous image by Robert Frank of a New Orleans train station. This print would be the second by Prager to enter the High’s collection, and its size (more than eight feet wide) and cinematic quality would complement the High’s existing holdings of work by Jeff Wall and Thomas Struth.

The High Museum of Art
The High is the leading art museum in the southeastern U.S. With more than 14,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High has an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American and decorative art; significant holdings of European paintings; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography, folk art and African art. The High is also dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists. For more information, visit

The Woodruff Arts Center
The Woodruff Arts Center is one of the largest arts centers in the world, home to the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the High Museum of Art and Arts for Learning. Each year, these arts organizations play host to over 1.2 million patrons at the Woodruff Arts Center’s Midtown Atlanta location, one of the only arts centers in the U.S. to host both visual and performing arts on a single campus. Through its work with educators and schools, the Woodruff Arts Center serves over 300,000 students annually and is the largest arts educator in Georgia.

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Media contact: 

Marci Tate
Manager of Public Relations
High Museum of Art