By Howard Pousner
In a substantial loss for the High Museum of Art, Julian Cox, curator of photography since 2005, is leaving Atlanta to become the founding curator of photography for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and chief curator of the de Young Museum.
Cox has added more than 1,000 works to the High’s permanent photography collection during his five-year tenure. Highlights include an archive of 325 prints that document the history of the civil rights era – the largest of its kind in any art museum in the United States – a cache of more than 100 photographs by Eugéne Atget, and important monographic holdings by contemporary photographers such as Emmett Gowin, Sze Tsung Leong, Danny Lyon, Richard Misrach, Taryn Simon and Alec Soth.
He also mounted a number of important exhibitions, including “Harry Callahan: Eleanor” (2007), “Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement,” 1956-1968 (2008) and the current show “Signs of Life: Photographs by Peter Sekaer.”
The Sekaer show represents the first comprehensive assessment of the life and work of the Danish-born American photographer, an, until now, somewhat obscure peer of Walker Evans. Most of the more than 75 vintage gelatin silver prints on view were acquired by the High, giving it the largest museum holding of Sekaer’s photos in the U.S. The show continues on view through Jan. 9.
Cox’s collection-building and exhibitions have helped raise the High’s profile among American museums.
He will remain at the High through Aug. 20, and assume his new roles in September.
The High will mount a national search for a new curator of photography immediately.