By Sue Rodman
The High Museum of Art’s latest exhibit The Coca-Cola Bottle: An American Icon at 100 features 15 original works by Andy Warhol, including those that inspired his breakthrough pop art style. However, it’s the photographs of everyday people that drew me in.
There are more than 40 photographs, all inspired by or featuring the iconic bottle. The boy selling cokes on the roadside reminds me of my own sons hawking lemonade in our front yard; and you can almost hear the music oozing out of a still life of a jazz musician’s wares, the weathered instrument case with sheet music spilling out, his hat and a still smoking cigarette resting lazily atop a Coca-Cola bottle. One of my favorites is the photo of Maude Callen, a midwife working in rural South Carolina. She travels 4,000 miles a month to visit patients. It’s part of a series that ran in Life Magazine, and moved readers to donate $29,000 to build a medical clinic in the area. The rest of the series shows her working, but the photo in this exhibit is a rare moments rest enjoying a Coca-Cola. The pause that refreshes.
Organized by the High in collaboration with The Coca-Cola Company, the exhibition will be presented in two floors of the High’s Anne Cox Chambers wing. As visitors enter the exhibition gallery in the first-floor lobby, they encounter more than 500 contemporary 3-D printed bottles suspended from the ceiling that reference the Coca-Cola bottle’s iconic design. The second floor displays feature three main areas: a section focused on the design history of the bottle, a pop art section featuring the Warhol pieces, and the photography section.