“Ntadi” (ca. 1850–1925)
Kehinde Wiley: “Thiogo Gliveira do Rosario Rozendo” (2009)
The High Museum of Art hosted its first ever Collectors’ Evening on Saturday, January 30 2010. The participants at the event voted to secure four new acquisitions for the museum, including a collection of twenty photographs from the "Robert F Kennedy Funeral Train Rediscovered" portfolio by Paul Fusco; the painting “Thiogo Oliveira do Rosario Rozendo” from the series The World Stage: Brazil by Kehinde Wiley; an African art sculpture titled “Ntadi;” and a round-back chair and table from the "Sketch Furniture" series by Front Design
February 4, 2010, source: High Museum of Art
This new event, created to build and improve the Museum’s permanent collection, invited guests to take an active role in choosing the next work of art to join the collection. During the evening, each of the High’s seven curators presented a work of art as a potential new acquisition for their collection. Guests then cast their votes and the High purchased the works of art that received the most votes. The museum looks forward to hosting the event again next year.
More information about this year’s chosen works are below:
“Ntadi” (ca. 1850–1925) is a commemorative stone sculpture measuring 21½ inches high. It comes from the region of the great Kingdom of the Kongo, founded along the coast of central Africa in the 14th century. The sculpture’s asymmetrical posture, with its legs crossed and its palm on its cheek, is iconic. In Kongo culture, the gesture of the hand to the cheek is associated with reflection and discretion or, moreover, deep sadness and desolation. All of the ateliers that produced sculptures in steatite (soapstone) like this one, called “mintadi,” disappeared by the mid-20th century. The acquisition of this work helps build strength in Kongo art for the High’s collection of African art. Approximately 40% of all peoples of African ancestry in the Americas come from Kongo and Kongo-influenced regions of central Africa.
Decorative Arts and Design
A round-back chair and table from the “Sketch Furniture” series (2005) from Stockholm’s Front Design was acquired for the decorative arts and design department. The four members of Front Design—Anna Lindgren, Katja Pettersson, Sofia Lagerkvist and Charlotte von der Lancken—are internationally recognized for their innovations in furniture, ceramics, glass, lighting, textiles and interiors. Their “Sketch Furniture” series was introduced at Design.05 Miami in 2005, and was subsequently exhibited at Design Museum, London; Tokyo Wonder Site, Japan; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York. The unusual, lively furniture forms capture the dynamic quality of freehand drawings by using computer-aided design technology. A three-minute video clip of the design process will accompany the display of the work. Front Design has been awarded “Designer of the Future” at Design Miami/Basel, Switzerland, in 2007 and “Designer of the Year” at IMM Cologne, Germany, in 2010. The addition of this work will significantly enhance the High’s growing collection of contemporary design.
Modern and Contemporary Art
The newly-acquired work from the modern and contemporary art department is Kehinde Wiley’s painting “Thiogo Gliveira do Rosario Rozendo” from the series The World Stage: Brazil(2009), which measures 48 x 36 inches. The Los Angeles native and New York-based artist is known for his reinterpretation of classical portraits featuring young African-American men. Wiley’s vibrant, larger-than-life paintings depict his subjects as contemporary heroes and warriors, blending the visual rhetoric of traditional portrait paintings with Western urban aesthetics. Wiley’s models wear their everyday clothing—typically, hip hop-inspired oversized jeans, t-shirts and jewelry—and assume poses taken from paintings and sculptures representative of the history of their surroundings. “Thiogo Gliveira do Rosario Rozendo” is part of the most recent series of paintings created in Rio de Janeiro, in which young men from the favelas (slums) pose as figures from public sculptures found throughout the city. Focusing on the historical depiction of Afro-Brazilians (who are descendants of African slaves), Wiley brings to light the continued economic challenges and social marginalization of a race that comprises the majority of the city’s labor force. Wiley’s work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Walker Art Center, UCLA Hammer Museum and many other important public collections. “Thiogo Gliveira do Rosario Rozendo” from the series The World Stage: Brazil is the first work by Wiley to enter the High’s collection.
The photography department has acquired twenty photographs by photographer Paul Fusco from The Robert F. Kennedy Funeral Train (1968). On June 8, 1968, Robert Kennedy’s body was transported by train to Washington, D.C., for burial at Arlington Cemetery. On board the train was Paul Fusco, a photojournalist on assignment for LOOK Magazine. As the train made its way down the Eastern Seaboard, thousands of mourners came out to line the railway tracks and pay their final respects. Fusco documented the mourners, taking approximately 2,000 pictures during the eight-hour train journey. Fusco’s photographs simultaneously tell individual stories while capturing the collective emotion of the American public. Unfortunately, Fusco’s photographs were never published by LOOK, and the magazine folded three years later. Fusco was able to retain 200 of the pictures, but the rest were donated to the Library of Congress along with LOOK’s photographic archives. The portfolio remained unpublished until 1998, when it was featured in GEORGE magazine to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Kennedy’s death. The images have since been published in two separate books and have been exhibited internationally. This portfolio of 20 cibachrome prints is part of a limited edition of 15 sets that have been made expressly for museums. It is the first work by Paul Fusco to enter the High’s collection, and it will complement the Museum’s prominent archive of more than 300 photographs that document pivotal events of the civil rights era.