Friday, April 7, 2017

The High Museum of Art

(Getty Images photo)


Last week my daughter and I took a trip to Atlanta to visit the High Museum of Art. My daughter is an artist and has toured the High on a few occasions, but this was my first visit. I suggested to her after one of her trip to Atlanta that one day we should go and that way she could give me a professional tour. That day finally came when after several months we both had a day off from work at the same time, so we headed off to Atlanta.

At the High Museum of Art, my daughter Elaine had some fascinating commentary about how artists work and how contemporary artists all work basically in tandem, being fully aware of one another's work, whereas the traditional artists in the past were more isolated. Some had knowledge of others' work, and most reflected a particular school or tradition in their work. (By the way, you can see my daughter's work at http://efkinnaird.wixsite.com/elainefarleykinnaird)

Today I am including three of the works that I was most impressed with:

Opening Day at Talladega College by Hale Woodruff

I was pleasantly surprised to see the exhibit "Rising Up: Hale Woodruff's Murals at Talladega College." I had read several years ago about the murals from Talladega College going on tour and thought it would be something I would like to see if I had the opportunity. With time, it departed from my radar, so I was happy to find the opportunity right there as I toured the museum. Apparently the murals have come to stay at the High after a multi-city tour. Woodruff was an Atlanta native and influential in the art scene. You can see more about the exhibit and view a brief video about its history and significance at  http://www.high.org/Art/Exhibitions/Rising-Up-Hale-Woodruff.

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The Mourners by Frederick Flemister

Georgia native Frederick C. Flemister  was one of the foremost artists to emerge from a group taught and influenced by Hale Woodruff who founded Atlanta University’s School of Art. "The Mourners" immediately caught my eye and drove home a powerful message in its portrayal of a lynching of a young black man in the same style as religious art depicting Christ's deposition from the cross.

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Hail Mary by Luc-Olivier Merson

I love the way that Luc-Olivier Merson uses a contemporary (to his day) French peasant scene to place the Madonna and child. It looks simply like a farmer tipping his hat to a lady as he is walking by. The title of the painting brought a surprise and a smile as I stood there admiring the work. There is a faint halo that the artist placed around the lady's head to show the viewer who the man is greeting. I love the juxtaposition and intermingling of time frames which to me gives "Hail Mary" a timeless quality. (Where might you meet Our Lady in the course of the day?)

Merson employed a similar combination in another painting of Mary and the Christ Child in "Rest on the Flight into Egypt." The combination there is not of time and place, but a convergence of myths. The artist represents the Virgin Mary and the infant Christ resting in the arms of the Sphinx. It is quite a beautiful and dramatic painting. That one is at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and you can see it at http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/rest-on-the-flight-into-egypt-31734

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One of the exhibits currently at the High is "Cross Country: The Power of Place in American Art" on display until May 7, 2017. The paintings, all holdings of the High Museum of art, were arranged according to geographic region. I found many inspiring pieces there, many of which I thought would work well with a haiku or other poetic form, so you can rest assured that you will see some of them referenced in future blog posts.


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