NEW YORK—Since the beginning of the year, the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, has acquired more than 300 works of art. Among these acquisitions are two paintings by Auguste Renoir—Woman Arranging Her Hat, circa 1890, and Still-Life with Apples, circa 1890—donated by longtime patrons Michelene and Bob Gerson; 53 images by Danish-born American photographer Peter Sekaer (1901–50), purchased with money provided by two local donors; and 15 paintings and works on paper by such early 20th-century American modernists as John Ferren, Ilya Bolotowsky and George L.K. Morris, donated by the estate of Barney Franklin.
Another recent acquisition is All About Eve, circa 1989, an assemblage painting by folk artist William Hawkins, which was a part purchase and part exchange—for a smaller Hawkins painting in the museum’s collection, The Buffalo—from gallery owners Frank Maresca and Roger Ricco of Ricco Maresca, New York.
In addition, the High purchased a late-19th-century staff finial from the Ivory Coast from the estate of Chaim Gross (using funds provided by Fred and Rita Richman) and Edward Bannister’s Apple Tree in a Meadow, circa 1890, from the collection of Peggy Cooper Cafritz, an important group of works of African American art that was almost completely destroyed by a catastrophic fire last July in Washington, D.C. The Bannister painting was saved from the blaze as it was on approval at the High Museum at the time.
Despite the dip in the economy, “both 2008 and 2009 have been good years for the High in terms of our acquisitions,” said David Brenneman, the museum’s director of collections and exhibitions. “We’ve made some nice purchases and got some wonderful gifts.”
Cash donations to acquire works of art may have been affected slightly, Brenneman noted, but if there is a change to relax the government’s rules for fractional gifts (ANL, 9/8/09), “that may release some donations” of objects, he said. Still, he added, the number of acquisitions this year is on par with that of last year.
Brenneman was reluctant to reveal the specific value of the donated objects to ARTnewsletter, although he noted that the two Renoirs were “worth more than $1million” combined, that the cash payment to Maresco and Ricco for the Hawkins painting was in the “five figures” and that the price of the Bannister work was in the “high five figures.”
Since the High Museum’s expansion was completed in 2005, its curators have focused on acquiring more contemporary art. Among the contemporary works that have entered the High’s collection since January are a 2007 color woodcut self-portrait by Chuck Close, which was donated to the museum by the artist, and a group of prints by Martin Puryear and David Driskell, which the museum purchased. Last year, as part of a program called “50 Works for 50 States,” New York collectors Herbert and Dorothy Vogel donated to the High a collection of modern and contemporary artworks by such artists as William Anastasi, Stephen Antonakos and Richard Tuttle.