Press RoomPress ReleasesLarge Scale Sarah Sze Commission and Julie Mehretu Work Acquired by High Museum of Art

Large Scale Sarah Sze Commission and Julie Mehretu Work Acquired by High Museum of Art

May 21, 2013

Acquisitions represent major advancement in contemporary art for the High. 

ATLANTA, May 21, 2013 ―The High Museum of Art is pleased to announce that it has acquired two major works of contemporary art: Sarah Sze’s “Book of Parts (Centennial),” commissioned by the High in 2012, and Julie Mehretu’s “Mogamma (A Painting in Four Parts) (Part II)” which was first seen at dOCUMENTA (13). The two major works signify the High’s role as a leading hub for contemporary art in the American southeast.

Sze’s “Book of Parts (Centennial)” is a detailed installation composed of found and fabricated elements that allude to science, museum display conventions, and industry to create a dynamic, structure that continually shifts as the viewer moves through and around it. This room-sized work (approximately 30 feet by 38 feet by 30 feet) was commissioned by the High for “Fast Forward: Modern Moments 1913 >> 2013,” an exhibition, developed in partnership with the Museum of Modern Art, New York, which explored how artistic styles unfolded in relation to major world events over the past century.

Sze’s piece responded to this theme by mirroring the organizational logic of the exhibition: collecting, sorting, categorizing, and displaying visual information to show the impacts of stylistic developments on each other over time. “Book of Parts (Centennial)” was on view at the High Museum of Art from Oct. 13, 2012 to Jan. 20, 2013 and is the last new piece Sze completed prior to her installation for the United States Pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale this summer.

In addition to “Book of Parts (Centennial),” the High also acquired one of Sze’s prints, “Day,” a piece that explores sculptural elements of depth, movement, and scale by combining elements of design and printmaking.

Mehretu’s “Mogamma (A Painting in Four Parts) (Part II)” is one of a four-part series of large canvases (each 15 feet by 12 feet) that were produced for dOCUMENTA (13) which was on view in Kassel, Germany from June 6 to Sept. 16, 2012. The work was inspired by the events of the Arab Spring, and its title –“Mogamma”– refers to the government building just south of Tahrir Square in Cairo.

Each piece in the series includes deeply layered architectural renderings from Tripoli, Cairo, and other sites of social gathering in Middle Eastern and North African cities where uprisings occurred. The four paintings in the series will be shown at White Cube gallery in London from April 30 through July 7, 2013. Mehretu’s “Mogamma” will be installed in the High’s contemporary galleries late this summer.

“I am delighted that Mogamma (Part II), which is especially important to me, has been acquired by the High Museum,” said Mehretu. “To be represented in such an esteemed collection is truly an honor.”

“These acquisitions represent another important step forward for contemporary art at the High and speak to our Museum’s increasing commitment to building an ambitious and distinctive public collection of contemporary art in the Southeast,” said Michael Rooks, Wieland Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. “Sze’s complex, architectonic installation is especially significant to us, since it was developed for our audience and with our gallery spaces in mind. Mehretu’s work is a monumental exposition of transmutation on both a global and personal scale and, in our collection, will serve as an inquiry into the social and political vicissitudes our times.”

In addition to the Mehretu and Sze acquisitions, the High also acquired more than 70 photographs, all of which are gifts, including: 50 photographs by John Yang, an important group of photos by Jan Banning, as well as works by Barbara Kasten, Ray Metzker and Joel Meyerowitz.

The Museum also acquired two 19th century American paintings, “The Mount,” (1884) by G. Roger Donoho and Joseph Biays Ord’s “Still Life with Shells” (1840).

Sarah Sze (born 1969) 

Educated at Yale University and the School of Visual Arts, New York, Sarah Sze has emerged as one of the foremost installation artists of her generation. Best known for her elaborate and gravity-defying installations—microcosmic spaces of dizzying complexity—her work often seems to be a three-dimensional collage in which the placement of every object holds meaning both outside the work and within it. Her coupling of familiar objects—towels, chairs, ladders, for example—with ones that are less immediately identifiable provokes the viewer to create rich associations between otherwise unrelated items. Over the last 15 years, she has shown in group exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale and at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Monographic exhibitions of her work have been organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; the Whitney; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, among others. Her permanent installations are on display at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California, Berkley. Sze has been the recipient of numerous honors, including the Atelier Calder prize and a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, and most recently she has been selected to represent the United States at the 2013 Venice Biennale. She lives and works in New York City.

Julie Mehretu (born 1970)
Julie Mehretu was born in Addis Abada, Ethiopia to an Ethiopian college professor and an American teacher. They fled Ethiopia in 1977 during the Ethiopian-Somali War and moved to East Lansing, Mich. Mehretu received a bachelor’s degree from Kalamazoo College and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Rhode Island School of Design with a focus on painting and printmaking. She received the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award in 2000, a Joan Mitchell Foundation grant in 2003 and was a recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship in 2005. She is known for her large-scale paintings and drawings and for her technique of layering pictorial elements using a variety of media including graphite, ink and bright planes of acrylic color. Her canvases juxtapose architectural renderings and features with different geographical schema such as charts, building plans and city maps. She has exhibited in several important group exhibitions including: the 8th Istanbul Biennial, the Whitney Biennial, the São Paolo Biennial, the Biennale of Sydney, and “From Picasso to Julie Mehretu,” at the British Museum, London, among others. Solo exhibitions of her work have been organized by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the St Louis Art Museum; Detroit Institute of Art; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, among others. Julie Mehretu lives and works in New York City.

High Museum of Art
The High is the leading art museum in the southeastern U.S. With more than 13,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High Museum of Art has an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American and decorative art; significant holdings of European paintings; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography and African art. The High is also dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists and is distinguished as the first major museum in North America to have a curatorial department specifically devoted to the field of folk and self-taught art. For more information about the High, visit

The Woodruff Arts Center
The Woodruff Arts Center is ranked among the top four arts centers in the nation. The Woodruff is unique in that it combines four visual and performing arts divisions on one campus as one not-for-profit organization. Opened in 1968, the Woodruff Arts Center is home to the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the High Museum of Art and Young Audiences. To learn more about the Woodruff Arts Center, please visit

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