The High Museum of Art will explore the career of American artist Al Taylor in a new exhibition opening Nov. 17 and photography from the Civil Rights Movement opening Nov. 4.
“Al Taylor: What Are You Looking At?” will feature more than 150 sculptures, drawings, and prints spanning nearly two decades, from 1981 to the end of the artist’s life in 1999. The works are drawn from public collections such as the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and The British Museum, London, as well as private collections in the United States.
“This exhibition will offer an in-depth look at the breadth of Taylor’s artistic production and reveal the polyglot nature of his visual language and the reciprocity in his practice among drawing, sculpture and printmaking,” said Michael Rooks, the High’s Wieland Family curator of modern and contemporary art. “Taylor drew no hierarchical distinctions among the different media he used. They each facilitated a variety of methods for researching his hypotheses about visual perception, which posed the fundamental question ‘What are you looking at?’”
Although Taylor lived and worked for most of his life in New York City, his art was more widely known in Europe, with exhibitions in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. Taylor presented his work in solo gallery exhibitions in the United States during his life, however his first U.S. museum exhibitions were held posthumously. “What Are You Looking At?” marks the second time the High has presented Taylor’s work. In 2013, Rooks organized “Drawing Instruments: Al Taylor’s Bat Parts and Endcuts,” which featured a selection of drawings and sculptures from two thematic series illuminating the exchange between two-and-three-dimensional form in his practice.
Taking its title from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s final speech before his assassination in 1968, the High Museum of Art’s photography exhibition “‘A Fire That No Water Could Put Out’: Civil Rights Photography,” which opens Nov. 4, will reflect on the 50th anniversary of that tumultuous year in American history.
The more than 40 prints to be featured are drawn in large part from the museum’s collection of photography documenting the civil rights movement.
“While Dr. King’s assassination is often cited as the closing bookend of the civil rights movement, activism over the past 50 years has continued efforts to advance racial equality and justice in the United States,” said Erin Nelson, the High’s curatorial assistant for photography and curator of the exhibition. “Through some of the most powerful images from our civil rights collection, including recent acquisitions, this exhibition underscores photography’s pivotal role in chronicling the important moments that shaped our past and the current events and perspectives that will influence our future.”
The exhibition will be arranged into three sections that explore the era of Dr. King’s leadership, the year of his death and contemporary reflections on the civil rights movement’s enduring legacy. Artists featured include renowned 20th century photographers Gordon Parks, Danny Lyon, Charles Moore, Roy DeCarava, James Hinton, Steve Schapiro, Diane Arbus, Ernest Withers, Doris Derby and Burk Uzzle as well as notable contemporary photographers David Alekhuogie, Dawoud Bey, Jason Lazarus and Sheila Pree Bright. The works on view demonstrate these artists’ wide-ranging approaches to documenting and responding to the civil rights movement, from the photojournalistic to the poetic, from tender portraiture to conceptual landscapes.
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