ATLANTA, Feb. 7, 2024 — The High Museum of Art continued to expand its collection in 2023 with 396 new acquisitions, including a 2022 work by Nigerian artist Marcia Kure, a mural panel by artist and designer Winold Reiss, a ceramic sculpture by Woody De Othello, a painting by Swedish landscapist Alfred Ekstam, and a video installation by contemporary artist Arthur Jafa donated by the Alex Katz Foundation. This year, the High also became the first American museum to acquire works by the Ukrainian-born self-taught artist George Voronovsky and French photographer Noémie Goudal.
“We are proud of our curators, and grateful to our donors, for their steadfast commitment to securing a wonderful range of acquisitions,” said Rand Suffolk, director. “These works exemplify our dedication to presenting a compelling and diverse spectrum of artists, media, time periods and cultures to Atlanta and our region.”
Chief Curator Kevin W. Tucker added, “These acquisitions support our strategic efforts to acquire works of national and international significance that build on the strengths of our holdings. We look forward to sharing these works with our audience through future installations and exhibitions.”
Major 2023 acquisitions include:
Nigerian, born 1970
Charcoal, kola nut, indigo, ink, and acrylic on canvas
86 inches × 168 inches
Purchase with funds from Elizabeth and Chris Willett and the Fred and Rita Richman Special Initiatives Endowment Fund for African Art.
Kure’s “Reticulation” recontextualizes uli line making, an Igbo design tradition marked by asymmetry and curvilinear gestures adapted for formal art practice by aesthetic philosopher Uche Okeke at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka’s Fine Art Department, where Kure studied. In the work, the artist applies uli forms to map making, evoking the realized and theoretical lines of migration and trade routes. This abstract map is thoughtfully stained with tea, kola nut and indigo, commodities of great significance to movements of people in West Africa. “Reticulation” contextualizes the work of other Nsukka artists in the High’s collection, such as Okeke and El Anatsui, and demonstrates the ongoing application of uli visual language in the 21st century.
Fritz Wilhelm Winold Reiss
American, born Germany, 1886-1953
“Untitled Panel from ‘City of the Future,’ Longchamps Restaurant, New York,” ca. 1936
Oil and gold leaf on canvas
57 × 182 inches
Purchase with funds from Alfred Austell Thornton in memory of Leila Austell Thornton and Albert Edward Thornton, Sr., and Sarah Miller Venable and William Hoyt Venable, 2023.7
The “City of the Future” mural by émigré artist and designer Winold Reiss was a key part of an interior scheme commissioned in 1936 for a Longchamps Restaurant near Manhattan’s Times Square. For this “Restaurant of the 21st Century,” Reiss produced a nine-part mural cycle, of which this panel was the centerpiece. Silhouetted in gold leaf and paint, the New York skyline as seen from the Hudson River stretches across the painting, with the iconic spires of the Chrysler and Empire State buildings soaring skyward. A flying boat ascends over a Zephyr train and car, all appearing as streamlined emblems of modern transportation and industrial progress. A rare surviving example of the artist’s work and characteristic of the most fashionable interior design of the decade, Reiss’s “City of the Future” panel stands as a true highlight of the museum’s collection of American works from the 1930s.
Decorative Arts and Design:
Woody De Othello
American, born 1991
“Secrets Safe,” 2022
Ceramic, glaze, and wood
58 1/2 × 22 × 22 inches
Purchase with funds from Dwayne Majors and Belinda Stanley-Majors, the Decorative Arts Acquisition Trust, Gregor Turk and Murphy Townsend, Jane and Clay Jackson, and Friends of African American Art, 2023.8
“Secrets Safe” by De Othello depicts a jug with variously sized ears atop a stool, recalling diverse ceramic practices and typologies. The artist uses clay as a conduit to explore African ancestry, including the face jug tradition associated with mid-19th-century enslaved potters in the Edgefield district of South Carolina. The work can also be understood as a contemporary example of the West and Central African concept of nkisi, an object that contains spiritual forces. By creating a work that expands upon the complexity of ceramics from the African diaspora, the artist offers a figurative expression that allows for emotional and psychological exploration. The work will debut in the High’s presentation of the exhibition “Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina” (Feb. 16-May 12, 2024).
“Summer Evening after a Storm,” 1911
Oil on canvas
27 9/16 × 34 1/4 inches
Purchase with funds from John F. Wieland, Jr., 2023.357
In “Summer Evening after a Storm,” Swedish landscapist Ekstam creates a view of nature that is both realistically grounded and poetically heightened. While the composition presents an accurate view of rolling woodlands around Lake Racken (where Ekstam lived and worked as a member of Sweden’s foremost progressive artist colony), the use of intense glowing colors and regular unblended brushstrokes aligns the work with modernist art movements that stressed color-based expressionism over naturalism. The acquisition of this work by a Swedish painter broadens the High’s representation of post-impressionist modernism beyond French art and introduces a fresh, more holistic view of a pan-European avant-garde.
Folk and Self-Taught Art:
American, born Ukraine, 1903-1982
“Untitled (Kupala Night),” 1978-1982
Acrylic on canvas
24 × 30 inches
Gift of the Monroe Family Collection, 2023.354
In 2023, the High organized the debut solo museum exhibition of Ukrainian American artist George Voronovsky and received a gift of seven of his most outstanding works. A refugee of World War II, Voronovsky immigrated to the United States in 1951 and several decades later took up long-term residence in the Colony Hotel in Miami’s South Beach. He transformed his room there into an art-filled oasis with paintings on canvas and found cardboard as well as sculptures made from hand-carved Styrofoam. Most of his art depicts his fond memories of Ukraine, including this vibrant scene depicting Kupala Night, a summer solstice festival still celebrated by many Eastern European countries. The High is the first museum to acquire Voronovsky’s work and is advancing its foundational scholarship on this heretofore little known artist with a book to be published in 2024.
Modern and Contemporary Art:
American, born 1960, Tupelo, Mississippi; active New York
Running time: 1 hour, 14 minutes, 59 seconds
Gift of Alex Katz Foundation, 2023.80
This digital video and sound installation by Jafa, produced in collaboration with the CGI company BUF, continues his career-long consideration of Black visual culture. It joins Jafa’s “Love Is the Message, The Message Is Death,” also in the High’s collection, both gifts from the Alex Katz Foundation. Jafa has called the film “a [James] Turrell while you’re chained in the bottom of a boat.” Lauded universally as a masterpiece, “AGHDRA” significantly enhances the High’s collection of contemporary art by some of the most influential artists today who have advanced conceptual practices to include narratives related to social justice and Black truth telling.
French, born 1984
“Phoenix V,” 2021
Dye coupler print
58 ½ × 43 ¾ inches
Purchase through funds provided by patrons of Collectors Evening 2023
This photograph expands French artist Goudal’s nuanced examination of geologic change in the natural world. Her innovative practice across photography, video, sculpture and performance is acclaimed throughout Europe, and the High is pleased to be the first U.S. institution to acquire her work. Goudal’s kaleidoscopic view of rare palm trees that grow on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean unsettles our sense of the stability of the world as it currently exists. The work, which uses a subtle optical illusion to illustrate the movement of continents and shifts in climate over millions of years, significantly enhances the High’s leading collection of photographs that both push the boundaries of the medium and engage with pressing environmental issues.
About the High Museum of Art
Located in the heart of Atlanta, the High Museum of Art connects with audiences from across the Southeast and around the world through its distinguished collection, dynamic schedule of special exhibitions and engaging community-focused programs. Housed within facilities designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Richard Meier and Renzo Piano, the High features a collection of more than 19,000 works of art, including an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American fine and decorative arts; major holdings of photography and folk and self-taught work, especially that of artists from the American South; burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, including paintings, sculpture, new media and design; a growing collection of African art, with work dating from prehistory through the present; and significant holdings of European paintings and works on paper. The High is dedicated to reflecting the diversity of its communities and offering a variety of exhibitions and educational programs that engage visitors with the world of art, the lives of artists and the creative process. For more information about the High, visit www.high.org.
# # #
DIGITAL IMAGES AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST
Marci Tate Davis
High Museum of Art
Manager of Public Relations