Critic's Notebook: The High makes a joyful noise


  • Photo by Andrew Alexander
  • DAY OF THE DEAD: A detail from Paul Cézanne's "Study of a Skull" (1902-1904). The work is part of the exhibition "Cézanne and the Modern," which opens at the High on Oct. 25.

It's been a bit of a rough fall this year, so it was a pleasure to walk into a preview today for the High Museum's upcoming fall shows and find everyone and everything in the museum seemingly making a joyful noise. As well they should. The current trio of exhibitions is a knockout, as good as anything the High has ever shown.

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  • Courtesy The Henry and Rose Pearlman Foundation
  • AMAZON PRIME: Édouard Manet's "Young Woman in a Round Hat," ca. 1877—1879 is part of the upcoming High exhibition "Cézanne and the Modern."

Cézanne and the Modern features impressionist, post-impressionist and modern works from the collection of Henry Pearlman, a Brooklyn-born, self-made businessman who discovered a late-life passion for collecting. And what a passion: the exhibition has more than 50 fantastic works from Cézanne, van Gogh, Manet, Modigliani, Degas, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Soutine and others.

Its neighboring exhibition Make a Joyful Noise features three vibrant and beautiful marble panels from Italian sculptor Luca della Robbia’s organ loft created for Florence Cathedral, traveling to the U.S. for the first time, while their more permanent home, the Museo del Duomo in Florence, gets some updates.

If you're walking through the new exhibitons and you actually hear some choral music, you're not losing your mind. Upstairs from Cézanne and della Robbia is Janet Cardiff's lovely sound installation 40 Part Motet which is based on Tudor composer Thomas Tallis’ piece of the same name. The work features forty individual speakers on tripods, one for each individually-recorded singer, immersing the listener in the haunting and very present sound and giving the strange and lovely opportunity to sort of walk in and around an actively singing choir.

It's an amazing set of exhibitions, not to be missed. Though on paper they may sound about as unrelated and discordant as three shows can be, when placed side by side, they seem more like kissing cousins. The Cardiff installation is on view currently and will be at the High through Jan. 8. Cézanne and della Robbia will officially open Oct. 25 and will run through Jan. 11. Make some noise, ya'll.

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