Exploring more of the Steel City, today I’m visiting one of my favorite museums; the Carnegie Museum of Art.
Sounding like Bill Hader’s Stefon from SNL, I have to say this place has it all. Sculpture, architecture, Italian masters, decorative arts, 20th Century American Art, and because of the 58th Carnegie International, remarkable contemporary art.
So many places are uptight about photography. The Carnegie Museum of Art is not one of those places. I love seeing signs like these. It’s going to be a good day for me!
57th Carnegie International
Every few years the eyes of the art world look to Pittsburgh for the Carnegie International Exhibition.
The Carnegie International is the oldest North American exhibition of contemporary art from around the globe. It was first organized at the request of Andrew Carnegie on November 5, 1896. The Venice Biennale is the world’s oldest, beating the Carnegie by one year.
One of Carnegie’s intentions for the event was to use it to add new works to their permanent collection. They’ve certainly done that over the years. A surprising number of major works in the museum didn’t come from wealthy benefactors but were acquired from the artist during previous Carnegie Internationals.
My favorite from the exhibition was this neon house and video installation called Rubber Pencil Devil by Alex Da Corte.
Inside the home, a number of memorable scenes are recreated with the artist playing the lead role. My camera snapped an iconic scene from Singin’ in the Rain with the artist stepping in for Pittsburgh native Gene Kelly.
Look at these names that were exhibited in past Internationals: Homer, Dali, Pissarro, Rodin, Pollock, Magritte, Miró, Giacometti, and of course Warhol. It’s amazing to think at one point they weren’t monumental historical figures but living, working artists exhibiting here.
To visit during an International year is a real treat.
The Scaife Galleries (Permanent Collection)
These galleries are focused primarily on European and American art.
There’s old man Carnegie as screen-printed by another Pittsburgh icon; Andy Warhol overlooking the gallery entrance.
I’ve been to this museum many times over the years. As a college student studying fine art, I would often make the trip 1 1/2 hours north to find inspiration in these rooms.
One thing I’ve never noticed here before is this curious bit of taxidermy: an eagle shot down during the battle of Gettysburg.
This is such an approachable and appreciable art museum. There are big names to keep the less-interested friend you’ve probably dragged to the museum with you engaged.
“Oh! A Picasso! Oh, Edward Hopper. I think I know him! That one looks like a Van Gogh!”
Virtually everyone knows Monet. His Water Lillies paintings are large, memorable, and always a crowd pleaser.
As much as I love Picasso, the Impressionists, and Edward Hopper, I always look forward to seeing this painting on my return visits.
Lion Snapping at a Butterfly by Jean-Léon Gérôme shows the king of the jungle annoyed at the presence of a simple butterfly – and there’s nothing he can do about it.
I also always liked John Singer Sargent’s Portrait of a Boy. Although I never felt as bored as he looks here when browsing these galleries.
Plenty of furniture and decorative arts are peppered throughout the galleries is that’s your thing. It isn’t really mine, but I did love this piece.
Below is the profile of Walking Man by Alberto Giacometti against the background of Mark Rothko’s Yellow and Blue. There are six bronze casts of Walking Man in the world today.
The Carnegie Museum of Art’s Walking Man is the first cast. The second sold for $104 million at auction, making it one of the most expensive works of art ever sold at auction.
The museum has many pieces from Auguste Rodin, one of the most influential sculptors of all time. Rodin actually exhibited in the 1920 Carnegie International.
In TV Rodin, artist Nam June Paik turns the Rodin’s famous Thinker, a figure of introspection (originally destined for the Gates of Hell) into a Narcissist studying himself on TV.
New to me is Urn of Life by early 20th-century sculptor and Pennsylvania native George Grey Barnard. While the Carnegie Museum of Art has owned this piece since 1919, it was not on view in any of my prior visits.
After an intense restoration, the piece was put on view in 2012.
We started with neon, why not end on it? Another favorite in the permanent collection is Having Fun/Good Life by Bruce Nauman.
The Hall of Architecture
This room is awesome. Here you can marvel at plaster casts of many famous facades. During my visit, they’re setting up the room for the Carnegie’s Christmas Tree display, so I couldn’t get any closer.
Next door and down this hallway is the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, where I’m heading next.
Visit the Carnegie Museum of Art
Open most days 10 am-5 pm. Open a little later (until 8 pm) on Thursdays. The museum is closed on Tuesdays. Save 50% on tickets if you visit on a weekday after 3 pm. Although you’ll never cover the whole museum in two hours. Save that special for Thursdays, I think.