Upon arriving at the press preview for the 2013 Carnegie International I had one completely ridiculous thought. "I guess they don't do glitter confetti at things like this..."
Not that I expect glitter confetti at 9:30AM in an art museum but it really would have been rad if there were. No, instead it was a very professional and glitter-less affair that introduced the International to the press this morning. Jonathan Gaugler, the media relations manager, introduced us to the wealth of great materials provided by the museum, Lynn Zelevansky shared with us her process to find the curators and introduced Daniel Baumann, Dan Byers, and Tina Kukielski.
The three curators then gave a brief but informative presentation about their thought process, which I'm happy to say, balanced the legacy of the event with it's goal of finding and collecting the classics of tomorrow. The curators took a step back and asked, "What is the International's role and the museum's place in Pittsburgh?" They found that their lives here in Pittsburgh, their connection to the city, and the thriving art scene had a place in an exhibition that features artists from around the globe.
Artists in the Carnegie International are looking through and connecting with their own place and past (He An, Dinh Q. Lê, and Paulina Olowska). Many are also actively dealing with real social change through their work (Zanele Muholi, Fraces Stark, Transformazium). This pulled me in. I wasn't just looking at conceptual art but evidence of another human's story. Each artist handled this differently: Zoe Strauss focuses on the people of Homestead's perceptive while He An puts us in a place familiar to him.
All that is kinda right up my and this whole damn project's alley.
Normally the museum is cleared out and then filled with the work for the International. Rather than lock up what's regularly on display, new work is integrated with the permanent collection and pieces acquired through past Internationals are highlighted. Displaying this history gives the event more depth. Reading the information plate next to Mary Cassatt's Young Women Picking Fruit puts not only the museum's but America's history into perspective. Mary was in the 1899 International because she could "draw like a man" and could hang with the best of the Impressionists who, for all their beautiful and delicate paintings, were the bros of the art world back then. The excerpt from her letter cements my long time respect for her as having a serious set of balls for a lady in the early 20th century.
By the end of the preview I was exhausted but still wanting to find every last piece I trekked out of the art museum and into the natural history museum. The choice to display in other parts of the Carnegie Museums is a great one. Walking through the dinosaurs and minerals I took in everything that Andrew Carnegie made possible with his huge monitory gifts to the city over a hundred years ago and also discovered the Botany Hall. You guys... we have a Botany Hall that is really very pretty and interesting.e
You got to love an exhibition that makes you work for it - and this one does.
Footnotes: I got my glitter needs filled by Lara Favaretto's cubes; this post is really the first in a few I will have to write about the Carnegie International. There's a lot to digest here...
The galleries above document my journey through the exhibition. Names of artists and pieces are there if you hover over the image. For better images and real in depth information about the artists and their work download the CMOA app on iTunes or go to coma.org . Do it nerd. You know you want to.
Tim Goodier and I travel through the Carnegie International and discuss some great artwork. At the end of this recording I've included a quick interview with Takaharu Tezuka.
Note: LOTS of background noise in this one. That's the deal when you record in the field.