Thursday, September 9, 2010

The High...

... is the Museum of Art in Atlanta. Named after the High family who donated the land on Peachtree Street. The High is located in Midtown and is easy to spot: a congregation of white buildings added over the years.

Richard Meyer (1934), who favors the color white, designed a 135,000-square-foot building in 1983. Two new buildings were added in 2002 to expand the museum's size to 312,000 square feet. The architect for this project is Renzo Piano (1937).
The color white is the only common feature between the buildings. The curvy building from Meyer otherwise clashes with the angulous shapes from Renzo Piano. Piano's style, who built the Menil Collection in Houston, is recognizable, but due to its scale, the buildings looks like vast, windowless, graceless hangars. The one level museum in Houston, also white, has a mediterranean flavor and the system of panels to filter the sunlight brings an extra nautical or aerial touch. Adding to the coldness of the High is the grey cement courtyard as opposed to the fresh green lawn in Houston.

Walking through the entrance, the visitor is surprised by the brightness of the surroundings and the vast space of the atrium which spreads from the first floor to the skyway level, white with a touch of blue through the glass ceiling (the day of the visit).

At each level, balconies overlook the central area, and a gently inclined walkway brings the visitors to the different levels.

The three buildings (the Stent Wing, the Wieland Pavillion, the Anne Cox Chambers Wing) are connected by glass bridges.

To the left, "Mouth #15" Tom Wesselman, 1968

There is no shortage of space for the permanent exhibition. Large walls and wood floors, the setting is ideal. However, the visit was short due to the lack of interesting collections. European, American paintings, sculptures, crystal, furnitures...the collections are sparse and made of minor works .

The goal of my visit was to see the temporary exhibition "Dali: The Late Work". The works were crammed on the walls or in the corners. The rooms were packed, full of visitors brought by this unique exhibition showing some rarely seen works. They were unable to take the few steps back and forth necessary to appreciate the visual effects of some of the paintings (for example: "Fifty Abstract Paintings") and feel the full impact of the monumental compositions like "Santiago El Grande". The temporary exhibition was not given the space it deserves.

The High has a lot of space, what about the content?

"The Shade" a sculpture from Rodin is a gift from the french governement to the High. 106 Atlanta arts patrons who died in an airplane crash at Orly airport in Paris in 1962.

"House III" Roy Lichtenstein, 1997 decorates the side of Meier's building.

photographs by the author

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