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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Coca-Cola Santas in Atlanta


The largest exhibit of Coca-Cola Santas in Atlanta will be on display at

The Woodruff Arts Center November 25 – December 31, 2011

ATLANTA, GA - He has a robust frame and he’s lavishly dressed- universally he’s known as Santa Claus and his likeness was brought to life by Chicago artist Haddon Sundblom for Coca-Cola in 1931. Seventeen of the original oil paintings created by Mr. Sundblom will be on display in the largest exhibit of the Coca-Cola Santas ever displayed in Atlanta at the Woodruff Arts Center from November 25 – December 31, 2011.

What started as an advertising campaign became the definitive personification of the holiday season. Haddon found the inspiration for Santa in Clement Clarke Moore’s 1822 poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas. His Santa was everyone’s favorite grandfather - a merry fellow who loved children, enjoyed a little honest mischief and feasted on snacks left out for him each Christmas Eve. Sundblom modeled his creation on the cheerful, somewhat furrowed looks of his friend Lou Prentiss, a retired salesman. After Prentiss died, Sundblom used his own face as the ongoing reference for his painting.

“Of the thousands of pieces of art in our archives, none is as valuable as the Sundblom Santas,” said Philip F. Mooney, Coca-Cola archivist. “The value to the Company goes beyond the worth of the paintings themselves. Their enduring popularity helped to create the modern image of Santa Claus that millions of Americans enjoy every holiday season.”

Parents, grandparents and children of all ages will bridge the generation gap as they explore this exhibit revealing the evolution of the Coca-Cola Santas from 1930 to 1965.

“We’re thrilled to have such a piece of American history at the Woodruff Arts Center. The Coca-Cola Santas have long been a part of the holiday season: To be able to have so many of the images in one place for our patrons to enjoy is amazing,” said The Woodruff’s President & CEO, Joe Bankoff.

The Coca-Cola Santas Exhibit will be open from November 25 – December 31, 2011 and will also include storytelling by featured artists on select days. For gallery times and to learn more about the Coca-Cola Santas, please visit

About Haddon Sundblom

In 1931 Haddon Sundblom, a Chicago artist, accepted an assignment from The Coca-Cola Company that ultimately would become much more than a famous advertising campaign. The Santa Claus he created in numerous oil paintings over 33 years became the definitive personification of the holiday season.

The partnership between The Coca-Cola Company and Haddon Sundblom lasted for decades. Sundblom painted his last Santa in 1964. He died in 1976, leaving an enduring symbol of joy and good will cherished by people the world over.

About the Woodruff Arts Center

Over the past 40 years, The Woodruff Arts Center has distinguished itself as one of the nation’s premier cultural centers. Its unique institutional model unites the performing and visual arts to form a collaborative, supportive and stimulating arts environment. The campus, located in the heart of Midtown Atlanta, houses four renowned arts organization—Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, High Museum of Art and Young Audiences. The Woodruff presents over 3300 performing and visual arts events each year and has served more than 30 million patrons since 1968.

Deeply committed to education in and through the arts, the Woodruff Arts Center’s Pre-K-12 programming reaches almost 500,000 students in more than 92 Georgia counties annually. To learn more, visit

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