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High Museum of Art

The High Museum of Art

The High Museum of Art has postponed the exhibition that was to have concluded its partnership with New York’s Museum of Modern Art. According to a High spokesperson, an as-yet-undisclosed iteration of “Free Radicals: Contemporary Art 1988-2008” has been rescheduled for the museum’s fiscal year 2015, which means sometime after June 2014. More specific dates have not been determined.

Sources speculate that the move comes partly due to lower-than-expected attendance for the most recent High-MOMA show, “Fast Forward: Modern Moments 1913>>2013,” which closed January 20. “Picasso to Warhol: Fourteen Modern Masters” drew 322,913 visitors during its 28-week run, from October 2011 to April 2012. “Fast Forward” brought in markedly fewer, with 84,701 in 14 weeks — half the length of “Picasso to Warhol” but roughly one-fourth the attendance.

Originally scheduled for July 6 through September 22 of this year, “Free Radicals” was organized by High curator Michael Rooks in collaboration with MOMA curators. According to earlier press material, it was to have included such artists as Paul Pfeiffer, Blake Rayne, Dana Schutz, Eve Sussman, Kara Walker and Aaron Young. High spokesperson Kristen Heflin could not say whether those artists will remain on the roster. Rooks declined to comment.

Taking the place of the show on the High schedule will be “Rashid Johnson: Message to Our Folks,” organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, where it appeared last year. Johnson, who received the High’s 2012 Driskell Prizeburst onto the scene with his inclusion in the influential 2001 exhibition “Freestyle” at the Studio Museum in Harlem, the show that defined the “post-black” movement. His 14-year survey will be on view in Atlanta June 8 through September 8.

    Rashid Johnson:  "The New Negro Escapist Social and Athletic Club (Thurgood)," 2008.

Rashid Johnson:
“The New Negro Escapist Social and Athletic Club (Thurgood),” 2008.

“Our exhibition calendar is a living document that changes frequently,” Heflin said. “We’ve done some reorganization of upcoming exhibitions, and as an institution we are trying to determine what final MOMA projects would best advance contemporary art in our community.” In addition, with the museum’s anticipated blockbuster presentation of “Girl With a Pearl Earring” this summer, “it would be challenging to give ‘Free Radicals’ the time and energy it deserved,” Heflin said.

Confirming the change in plans, MOMA spokesperson Margaret Doyle said, “The project has been re-conceived into two contemporary installations being planned for a later time frame.”

As of today on its website, MOMA still had “Free Radicals” listed with the original Atlanta dates as a  traveling exhibition. The High has removed information about the exhibition from its site, but it still has information pertaining to a trip for four with Rooks to New York to visit the studios of some artists in the show, which was an auction item at its gala last October. Heflin said the trip will still take place. 

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