Wednesday, June 07, 2006


BlogBack: An Admirer of the High

Announcing a new CultureGrrl feature, BlogBack, inviting thoughtful readers to take issue with my intemperate observations. (Tom, Glenn, wanna blog? My guess is Tom won't; Glenn might.)

First up---Baxter Jones, a lawyer, art collector, member of the board of the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center and member of the Contemporary Art Society, a support group for the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. He inaugurates CultureGrrl's BlogBack with a compelling defense of his hometown museum:

I live a few minutes' walk from the High Museum, and I visit it often (and pass by it several times a week). I have to say that your description of Renzo Piano's recent addition as a "flop" struck me as bizarre. (Is "flop" just the sort of overstatement one makes to get attention in the blogosphere?) Well, I love it, and I notice people truly relishing the spaces, from the piazza (especially at night) to the light-filled contemporary art galleries on the top level.

Another favorite area of mine is on the lower level, the serene galleries for works on paper and African art. I haven't fully made up my mind about the galleries for temporary exhibitions; they were designed for maximum flexibility, so they don't have much particular character of their own. But then, one of the complaints about some museum spaces has been that the snazzy architectural touches distract from the art; Piano has made a name for designing spaces which put the art in the foreground, and I think that's what we got.

I'll never lose my affection for Richard Meier's 1983 building - it is a more beautiful sculptural work than Piano's building. However, some curators I know talk about the challenges of installing some work there (in the Meier building). I feel lucky that we have both buildings.

As for the Louvre Atlanta project, your contention that few of the works will come from the Louvre's "A-list" is also odd. First, the Louvre's B-list would be pretty fabulous. Second, some people in France are pretty upset about the high quality of works which will be leaving Paris for an extended time.

I could say more about the Louvre exhibit, but I'm concerned that the media attention for it will obscure the other aspects of the museum's exhibition schedule (such as the Morris Louis show). It's a paradox: the MSM love to scold museums (especially museums outside New York) for "blockbusters," but just try to get the same media to notice, or write about, a smaller, thoughtful, less flashy show!

The High does do some wonderful shows, curated in-house, which are not anyone's idea of a blockbuster. But you're unlikely to hear about them, because, as I say, they're ignored by the media (and blogs) outside Atlanta.

This intelligent, reasoned dissent sets the standard for BlogBack. You may not curse CultureGrrl on her blog, but you can heatedly disagree with her. I may edit, with your approval, for brevity, clarity and civility. Send BlogBacks, not brickbats, to:

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