The High Museum of Art

Murderous Woman Statue @ High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia

As an adult, I had never been face to face with a bronze statue that wasn’t covered in pigeon droppings.

The backstory.

I don’t remember what prompted us to want to go to the High, especially since we already missed the Rembrandt exhibit, but I was stoked about the opportunity to try out my snazzy new 85mm lens (thanks darling!).

The museum.

Tickets to the High were $20 a person and parking is an additional $8, unless you’re lucky enough to find it streetside, at which point you’ll pay by the hour. Street parking is free on Sundays, and possibly Saturday as well.

There is a staffed bag check; you give them your bags, they give you a ticket. Trade one for the other at any time. It was nice not having to carry a camera bag.

I think we overheard some discussion about really large diaper bags or backpacks not being allowed inside the museum, so if you’re planning on coming with children, pack lightly or be able to stuff your stroller.

Photography is permitted, but you have to sign an agreement that states you are taking photos for non-commercial use. The “permit” sticker they give you must be worn at all times or the curators will hassle you.

The paintings.

Some of the oil paintings at the High were surreal to look at in person– the colors are richer on canvas than in reality itself.

I didn’t take any pictures of the paintings (seemed pointless), but in retrospect I regret not having done so. Not a big deal; it will serve as justification for a repeat trip.

The ceramics.

Pottery isn’t my thing, but we saw a few ceramic pieces that dated back to the 1600s. One of them had a funny inscription but I don’t remember what it said.

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The statues.

By far my favorite part of the High. As an adult, I had never been face to face with a bronze statue that wasn’t covered in pigeon droppings.

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Walking amongst these life-sized marble figures was quite an experience. Rather than having pupils, their eyes were generally hollow or blank, but very haunting either way.

20140817135251-21612The level of detail on others was absolutely absurd. A statue of a veiled woman drew our attention for quite some time, as we pondered the stakes of what it must have took to create it. This sort of creation does not tolerate mistakes.

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The artist behind this one went so far as to sculpt the very filigree on the cloth. 20140817124855-21998Just like at the Swaminarayan mandir, there was not a flaw to be found in any of the works on display.

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How these artists managed this degree of perfection will forever be beyond us, especially given the subtractive nature of sculpture.

Mephistopheles knows, though. He always knows.

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The modern/contemporary art.

We aren’t fans, as our experience at a street art festival the night before had already proven, but we decided to tour the exhibit anyway. Our minds remained unchanged.

The African art.

Again, not fans.

The photography.

Photographer Wynn Bullock has his own exhibit in the High at the moment.

His signature techniques involving pushing the limits of exposure and perspective really shine in his landscape and abstract photography.

The rest of his work brought to mind the long-running joke on Flickr that you can take an unfocused, mediocre picture of a vase in front of an uninteresting window that frames nothing in particular, compose it poorly, and achieve a half-decent exposure– you’ll get a handful of compliments over the rest of your career. Replace the vase with a nude model and you’ll get a thousand fans overnight.

They’re often referenced in the same breath, but this is one of the things that separates Bullock from Ansel Adams. Bullock has some treasures, but quite a few of his photos suffer from forced use of nudes, as though he had already booked the model for the next few hours and really wanted to get his money’s worth by incorporating them into as many mundane compositions as possible. Personally I think mentioning Bullock and Adams in the same breath does Adams a disservice; the latter’s collective work stands on its own merits without needing to resort to gratuity.

We didn’t see any other photography on display at the High that really stood out to us.

The Dream Cars.

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I was a little disappointed with this temporary exhibit, not for any fault of its own, but because it was impossibly crowded the day we were there.

Up to that point the High was more or less empty.

Trying to get in a bit too close to the rocket car for what turned out to be a mediocre photo, I was shooed away from it by a curator. He was just doing his job, of course, but the irony behind this was that for the preceding few hours we were pretty much left unsupervised amongst priceless statues and paintings that had survived time, conflict and countless transfers of ownership spanning several millenia, yet it was a handful of prototype cars from the last few decades that warranted the most vigilant security.

 

 

Johnny

Pro-family and anti-drug, when he's not too busy living with four beautiful ladies, he likes long walks on the beach and poking dead things with sticks.

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