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News Room

High Museum of Art Receives Significant Gift from the Gordon W. Bailey Collection

April 4, 2016

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Key works to be on view in spring 2016 exhibition

ATLANTA, April 4, 2016 – The High Museum of Art is pleased to announce an important gift of 47 artworks from collector, scholar and advocate Gordon W. Bailey.

This is Bailey’s third substantial gift to the High and underscores his commitment to helping build the Museum’s collection, which is recognized as one of the world’s most significant public repositories of work by American self-taught artists. Since 2010, Bailey has donated more than 80 works of art to the High, including masterworks by Sam Doyle and Josephus Farmer. This gift adds particular strength to the Museum’s holdings of American contemporary art and works by African American, Southern and self-taught artists.

Comprising paintings, sculpture and works on paper, Bailey’s 2016 gift features such renowned artists as Leroy Almon, Burlon Craig, Roy Ferdinand, Howard Finster, Bessie Harvey, Lonnie Holley, Ronald Lockett, Elijah Pierce, Herbert Singleton, Purvis Young, Arthur Dial and Thornton Dial, Jr. All 25 of the artists represented in the gift are Southern and self-taught, including 18 African American and two Native American artists.

The High will celebrate the gift with an exhibition opening this spring titled “A Cut Above: Wood Sculpture from the Gordon W. Bailey Collection” (May 14 through Oct. 30, 2016).

“The High was among the first museums in the nation to make an institutional commitment to Southern self-taught artists,” said Rand Suffolk, Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr., director. “Without question, Mr. Bailey’s gift builds strength on strength, adds emphasis to our commitment to inclusivity and further enhances the High’s embrace of important and underrepresented artists.”

Katherine Jentleson, the High’s Merrie and Dan Boone curator of folk and self-taught art, said, “I am so grateful to Mr. Bailey for his prodigious commitment to fostering the appreciation of some of the most important but marginalized artists of the past century. His generous gift pushes the High’s collection to a new tier, both in quality and quantity. It also makes possible exhibitions like ‘A Cut Above,’ which will give our audiences an unprecedented opportunity to consider how self-taught artists respond to a varied material like wood, creating majestic works of art that range from relief carving to root sculpture.”

“A Cut Above” will feature more than 25 wood carvings and constructions drawn from the artworks Bailey has donated to the High over the past six years. The exhibition will place particular focus on Almon, a Georgia artist whose carving tools and teaching tablets—on view alongside his wood bas reliefs—give intimate insight into his process. Other key works featured in the exhibition will include Pierce’s reverent tribute to Henry “Hank” Aaron and his wife, Billye. Pierce created the carved wood portrait in 1974 to honor Aaron on the occasion of his historic 715th home run, which eclipsed Babe Ruth’s longstanding record. Also on view will be expressive life-size animals carved by O. L. Samuels and Raymond Coins and superb works by Charles Butler, Ralph Griffin, James Harold Jennings, W. C. Owens and Sulton Rogers.

About the High’s Folk and Self-Taught Art Department
The High is dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists and is distinguished as the first general museum in North America to have a full-time curator devoted to folk and self-taught art. The collection features works by such celebrated artists as Bill Traylor, Thornton Dial, Ulysses Davis, Sam Doyle, William Hawkins, Mattie Lou O’Kelley and Nellie Mae Rowe as well as the largest collection of works by Georgia’s Howard Finster outside of Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga. The collection of more than 900 objects also boasts work by artists from beyond the South, including Henry Darger, Martin Ramírez and Joseph Yoakum.

About the High Museum of Art
The High is the leading art museum in the southeastern United States. With more than 15,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High Museum of Art has an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American art; a significant collection of historical and contemporary decorative arts and design; significant holdings of European paintings; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography, folk and self-taught art, and African art. The High is also dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists. Through its education department, the High offers programs and experiences that engage visitors with the world of art, the lives of artists and the creative process. For more information about the High, visit high.org.

About The Woodruff Arts Center
The Woodruff Arts Center is one of the largest arts centers in the world, home to the Tony Award–winning Alliance Theatre, the Grammy Award–winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the High Museum of Art, the leading art museum in the Southeast. Each year, these centers of artistic excellence play host to more than 1.2 million patrons at The Woodruff Arts Center’s midtown Atlanta location, one of the only arts centers in the United States to host both visual and performing arts on a single campus. The Woodruff Arts Center also offers remarkable educational programming through each of its arts partners. Through the combined efforts of its arts partners, The Woodruff Arts Center serves more than 300,000 students annually and is the largest arts educator in Georgia. www.woodruffcenter.org

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Media contact:

Marci Tate
Manager of Public Relations
High Museum of Art
Tel: 404-733-4585
E-mail: marci.tate@woodruffcenter.org