Atlanta’s High Museum of Art Review – Leading Art Museum in Southeast


Degas, Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent, Prendergast, Edward Hopper, Max Weber


These are just a few of the world-renowned artists whose works you will find in Atlanta’s High Museum of Art.  



This is a rich collection of both insider and outsider art.



The permanent collection includes more than 14,000 works. 



With great signage throughout and ample spacing between displays, the High Museum goes a long way to help you digest what you see. 



You can get a good dose of art to soothe your spirit in just a few hours, or you can devote a day to slowly lingering, or something in between.



This is the leading art museum in the Southeastern United States. 



Those who have visited New York’s Morgan Library will immediately feel at home in the three newer wings designed by Renzo Piano.



We were lucky to catch the last days of Janet Cardiff’s “The Forty Part Motet”, set in an ultra-modern Piano-designed wing where the sounds swirled beyond the display hall reverberating on the entire floor.  In nearby galleries there were visitors lounging on the floors taking in the sound.  Having heard and seen this same installation in New York City’s Cloisters, the starkly contrasting modern setting gave it a new dimension.  While the Cloisters immersed you in a setting that reinforced the medieval roots of the music, the ultra-modern High Museum seemed to help you put more focus on the miracle of the recording single voices paired to single speakers.



We don’t know whether the High Museum timed its special exhibit of “Gordon Parks:  Segregation Story” to purposely coincide with Black History Month, but what a perfect pairing this was, especially in concert with a visit to what is arguably Atlanta’s top attraction, the Center for Civil and Human Rights.



Parks photos tell segregation’s story through the lens of an extended family—The Thornton family of Alabama, some poor and some not so—who just oozed respectability. 



As you see the dignity of this African-American family juxtaposed to segregation’s insidious signs for “Colored” your revulsion at segregation will build anew.   That same day, having seen videos of segregationists speaking about segregation in their own hate speech words at the Center for Civil and Human Rights, the High Museum's Parks exhibit seems to similarly scream “Never Forget”.  Originally a photo essay for Life magazine, the wall-sized prints give the images an immediacy that goes way beyond what a magazine presentation can do.


Note:  This exhibit and two accompanying photography exhibits -- Leonard Freed: Black in White America”  and “Helen Levitt: In the Street”, the latter showing New York City from the 1930’s to 1990’s—run until June 21.  If you are in Atlanta, do not miss them.



A special exhibit running now until May 24 is “Wifredo Lam: Imagining New Worlds”



This did open up new worlds to us, as we were unfamiliar with Lam or his works but duly impressed.  Cuban-born to an Afro-Latin mother and a Chinese father, Lam’s work ranged from realistic oil portraits to the surreal, some obviously influenced by Picasso. 



You’ll see homages also to Voudou.  There are more than 40 works in this collection and this is the first time that most of them have been seen together.


Minister-turned-artist Howard Finster has works showcased both here and also at a special exhibit at “World of Coca-Cola”.  The High Museum owns the largest public collection of objects from Paradise Garden, Finster’s outdoor art creation to honor his religious views, many of which remain on permanent display in the High’s Folk Art galleries. 



His re-imagination of how to use concrete sidewalks as art was very fun to see.


Time did not permit an exploration of other “Imagining New Worlds..” exhibits being unveiled by High Museum mid-February.  While the permanent collection is very substantial and well-presented, it was the special exhibits that will put the High Museum on our map again when we return to Atlanta.


Visit the Special Exhibits pages of the High Museum Website for an up-to-date listing of what is in the works. 


High Museum of Art

1280 Peachtree Street, N.E. Atlanta, GA 30309


Closed Mondays

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday 10 – 5

Friday  10- 9 (and half-price after 4 PM)

Sunday 12 - 5


For tickets and other information to plan your visit the High Museum Web site.




Photos:  Peter Kachergis, unless otherwise indicated

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