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Atlanta's High Museum of Art to host Collectors Evening to build permanent collection
Crochet Chair (prototype), 2006, designed by Marcel Wanders (Dutch, born 1963), crocheted fiber and epoxy resin, purchase through funds provided by patrons of the Third Annual Collectors Evening 2012, 2012.1.

ATLANTA, GA.- The High Museum of Art will host the fourth annual Collectors Evening on Jan. 11, 2013. Seven works will be presented for acquisition during the evening, one from each of the High’s curatorial departments. Attendees will cast their ballots, and the High will purchase the works of art with the most votes. The number of acquisitions will depend on funds raised via benefactors and ticket sales.

This year the event will also feature an auction component in which guests can bid on works for their own collections. These include works by such artists as Kael Alford, Shane Lavalette, Leonard Freed and Arthur Grace, among others.

“The curatorial team looks forward to this evening of spirited competition each year,” said David Brenneman, the High’s director of collections and exhibitions and Frances B. Bunzl family curator of European art.

“It is a rare opportunity for the curators to share their expertise and passion for art with Museum supporters,” said Michael Shapiro, the Museum’s Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr. director. “Although Collectors Evening is only four years old, the Museum has already acquired more than 13 new works. It’s a wonderful, fun way of engaging people in our permanent collection.”

Collectors Evening was established in 2010 as a means to add works to the permanent collection while providing a lively evening of face-to-face conversation with the High’s curators. Since its inception, Collectors Evening participants have selected a total of 13 acquisitions for the Museum. Three of these works were acquired last year including “Down Time,” an acrylic on canvas by KAWS, Hiroshi Sugumoto’s photograph “Lightning Fields” and “Crochet Chair” from designer Marcel Wanders.

This year’s proposed acquisitions include the following:

African Art
The proposed work for the African art collection is a wooden mask by a Pende artist of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (ca. 1875-1925). The extreme distortion of the face on this mask resembles that of one of the women depicted in Picasso’s famous 1907 painting “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.” Within Pende communities, masks with distorted faces represent individuals who have fallen into a fire, leaving their faces permanently disfigured. The masks promote compassion toward individuals who have suffered such calamities. This striking mask would join other important Pende works of art in the High’s collection, including a magnificent feather mask currently on view, a Pende cup currently on view, two face masks and a ceremonial axe.

American Art
George Henry Yewell’s oil on canvas “Self Defense” (1854) is the proposed acquisition from the American art department. Set on the streets of 1850s New York, “Self Defense” shows a boy preparing a snowball in response to one that landed just inches away from him. Yet this vignette is not merely one of child’s play. A painter of genre scenes often embedded with wry commentary, George Henry Yewell includes a series of broadsides plastered to the building walls, which advertise the various mass entertainments that in Yewell’s day had generated scandal, moral protest or even political debate. In many ways, “Self Defense” serves as a timeless American allegory, promoting the quick wit and strength of character required to steel oneself against various temptations.

Decorative Arts and Design
The decorative arts and design department will put forward “Spun,” a chaise prototype by Mathias Bengtsson, as an acquisition. In the late 1990s, Danish-born Bengtsson made a name for himself by combining innovative technology and new materials with more traditional handcraftsmanship to create decidedly unique and expressive forms, including the recently acquired “Slice Chair” (1999). Woven from just 2.5 kg of carbon fiber using computer technology, the feather-light, semi-transparent structure of “Spun” belies the extraordinary strength of the carbon itself. This particular work is the only surviving prototype for this extraordinary design.

European Art
French artist Edmé-Alexis-Alfred Dehodencq’s “Self-Portrait” (ca. 1870) is being presented for acquisition by the European art department. This oil-on-canvas work is a penetrating self-depiction that brings to mind several of Rembrandt’s mature self-portraits in the attire of the sitter, his pose, and the picture’s overall seriousness and monumentality. Signed and dedicated to Dehodencq’s friend and fellow Orientalist painter Eugène Fromentin (1820–1876), the work was probably given as a gift in thanks for Fromentin’s recommendation that Dehodencq, along with seven other artists, including Gustave Courbet, receive the prestigious Légion d’honneur in 1870. This painting will complement one of the High’s most important European paintings, Eugène Fromentin’s “Arabs on the Way to the Pastures of Tell.”

Folk Art
The folk art department will propose Thornton Dial’s assembled painting “The Money Business” (2012). During Dial’s lifetime, he has watched industry supplant agriculture in many parts of his native state of Alabama, as factories, industrial plants and steel mills have flourished, altering forever workers’ lives and surroundings. Featuring layers of found objects that evoke layers of meaning, “The Money Business” acknowledges the ascendency of industry and the changes it has brought. The denim background represents both a factory wall and the uniform of the worker. A ghostly nest made from scrap metal houses a bird composed of metal tubing and mattress springs. The greens and reds of the canvas speak to profit at the expense of the land and its human cost.

Modern and Contemporary Art
The proposed acquisition for the modern and contemporary art department is Joyce Pensato’s “Hey Now” (2012). Although Joyce Pensato has been working in Brooklyn since the 1970s, she has maintained a low profile and, until recently, remained somewhat overlooked in the New York art scene. Pensato’s pop culture subjects are psychologically charged and painted in an aggressively gestural fashion in mostly black, white and silver. “Hey Now” is one of Pensato’s most recent works and appears to combine a cartoon dog’s snout with the bushy eyebrows of Groucho Marx. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, owns similar paintings by Pensato, and others recently have been acquired by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and the Colby Museum of Art.

“Church Gate Station, Western Railroad Line, Bombay, India” (1995, printed 2012) by Sebastião Salgado is the proposed work for the High’s photography collection. Salgado is among the most recognized documentary photographers of the 20th century, celebrated for his epic and compassionate depictions of the developing world, manual labor and populations in distress. “Church Gate Station” depicts a train depot in Mumbai, India. Commuters whirl around two docked locomotives in the jam-packed station, which itself is only one portal to a city of mesmerizing proportions. The picture points to the simultaneously exhilarating and frightening rate of growth in developing-world cities, a phenomenon that presents dramatic benefits and challenges for the future of humanity. The image was a seminal influence on the train scenes in Danny Boyle’s Academy Award–winning film “Slumdog Millionaire.”

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