Masterworks, antiquities and new commissions at the High Museum

For the first time in more than 200 years, “The Tiber,” a colossal marble statue personifying Rome’s Tiber River, has left France. The statue, which was discovered in 1512 and brought to Paris by Napoleon in the late 1700s, is part of the Musée du Louvre’s collection of antiquities, now on display through Sept. 7, 2008, at the High Museum of Art.

The exhibition “Louvre Atlanta: The Louvre and the Ancient World” is the second stage of a three-year exhibition exploring the Parisian museum’s evolution from a private royal collection to a public museum. The exhibit features more than 70 works from the Louvre’s Egyptian, Near Eastern and Greco-Roman antiquities collections. A separate exhibit, “Louvre Atlanta: The Eye of Josephine” (through May 18, 2008), features masterworks from the Empress Josephine’s collection of Greco-Roman and Egyptian antiquities. Last year’s Louvre Atlanta exhibits focused on the royal collections. Next year’s exhibitions will focus on the Louvre’s contemporary history and future role.

Also on display at the High are “Harry Callahan: Eleanor” (through Dec. 9, 2007) and “Inspiring Impressionism” (through Jan. 13, 2008). Callahan took hundreds of photographs of his wife Eleanor during their life together. The exhibit features 125 photographs of his muse taken between the early 1940s and the 1960s, including some of his best-known works.

“Inspiring Impressionism” explores the relationship between artists and a different kind of muse. Acknowledging the artistic debt the Impressionist painters of the 19th century owe the “Old Masters” of the 17th century, this exhibit juxtaposes their works, creating the first comprehensive exhibit of its kind. More than 40 museums contributed the 86 paintings and drawings on display, some of which have never before traveled to the United States.

Opening in June 2008 is “After 1968: Contemporary Artists and the Civil Rights Legacy,” an exhibit featuring commissioned, new and recent art from seven emerging artists and art collectives. In addition to presenting painting, sculpture, photography, video, sound and light works by Deborah Grant, Leslie Hewitt, Adam Pendleton, Jefferson Pinder, Nadine Robinson, Hank Willis Thomas, and Otabenga Jones & Associates, the High will acquire a work by each of the artists for its permanent collection. Some of the new works were created in reaction to photographs appearing in a companion exhibit, “Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1956-1968,” on display from June 7 through Oct. 12, 2008.

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