Ever growing, High Museum adds 56 Kiki Smith prints

Continuing to assemble deep collections of an elite group of contemporary artists while also building its print holdings, the High Museum will announce Tuesday the acquisition of 56 prints by Kiki Smith, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned.

Adding the pieces by the New York artist, whose feminist and politically themed works often deal with birth, death and the fragility of the body, allows the High to “leapfrog to the forefront of museums who collect Kiki Smith’s work,” High chief curator David Brenneman told the AJC in an exclusive interview.

"One of the main reasons we decided to act upon this extraordinary opportunity is because printmaking is really the foundation of Kiki’s work and is something that informs her entire oeuvre," High modern and contemporary art curator Michael Rooks added in an email to the AJC. "Thus, her work complements and fleshes out our print holdings of artists such as Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly and Brice Marden, for whom printmaking is an essential part of their practice."

Acquired through a partial gift and partial purchase from collector Stephen Dull, the Smith works will be featured in "Kiki Smith: Rituals," which will go on view Oct. 8-Jan. 22.

As part of its 2005 expansion, the High focused on a strategy of collecting certain contemporary artists, such as Kelly and Gerhard Richter, in depth. Last month, the museum added two newly acquired monumental landscapes by Alex Katz to the Wieland Pavilion's Skyway level, and just last week it uncrated two Anish Kapoor sculptures.

Rooks has energetically pursued such gifts and acquisitions, including works by contemporary African-American and Georgia artists, since starting at the High in January 2010. On Monday, he expressed enthusiasm for the "great strides" the museum is making.

Former Atlantan Dull, a corporate executive now based in North Carolina, expressed a similar sentiment in a written statement. "Having watched its amazing and creative growth from afar," he said, "I am especially excited to be able to contribute to the High’s continued realization of its special vision and mission.”

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