June 26, 2018
Crossroads mines collection for diversity, depth, and eccentricities
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Pittsburgh, PA…Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA) announces Crossroads: Carnegie Museum of Art’s Collection, 1945 to Now, a major reinstallation of the museum’s galleries dedicated to postwar and contemporary art. Opening to the public on July 20, Crossroads mines the collection’s depth, diversity, and eccentricities, situating the work of artists at the intersections of history, society, politics, and biography. Instead of a strictly chronological hang, each gallery represents a chapter in the larger story of CMOA’s world-class collection.
“Andrew Carnegie’s mandate to acquire the art of our time has resulted in a collection that is more than the sum of its parts,” says Eric Crosby, CMOA’s Richard Armstrong Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. “I hope Crossroads will allow visitors to see art of the recent past through the lens of the present and to connect with themes and stories that resonate today.”
The modern and contemporary galleries are currently closed as they undergo a complete transformation. Visitors will be invited to preview the new collection galleries as part of CMOA’s Third Thursday celebration on July 19.
Crossroads features some 150 works ranging from familiar masterpieces by Alberto Giacometti, Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, and Mark Rothko to recent acquisitions in painting, sculpture, and photography. Many works have never been seen before in CMOA’s collection galleries, including Kerry James Marshall’s Untitled (Gallery) (2016) and Alex Katz’s Vivien Baseball Cap (2006), a recent gift by the artist. Joining these new acquisitions are works by Pope.L, Torey Thornton, Avery Singer, Michael Williams, Lorraine O’Grady, and Tseng Kwong Chi.
Other highlights on view include: Black Crowd (1954), a masterpiece by the Chinese émigré painter Zao Wou-Ki; Green Thought (1958), a recently conserved work by the color field painter Morris Louis from his iconic Veil series; Gordon Matta-Clark’s Conical Intersect (1975), a recently digitized film documenting the artist’s challenging architectural interventions in Paris; a rarely-exhibited large-scale 1981 painting by Keith Haring; a collection of posters by the Guerrilla Girls, the feminist collective who defined art as activism in the 1980s; and Louise Bourgeois’s Cell II (1991), a mysterious installation of found objects presented in the 1991 Carnegie International.
Crossroads unfolds in a series of “chapters,” beginning with the work that gives the installation its title: Bruce Conner’s 1976 film CROSSROADS. The film is a hypnotic and troubling collage of US military atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll in 1946. These devastating blasts signal a disruptive turning point in history, and the beginning of the postwar collection.
“Conner’s rapturous film is a meditation on the cataclysmic events that have shaped human life since World War II,” Crosby says. “His notion of a ‘crossroads’ is an evocative metaphor for us, one that underscores the pivotal decisions artists make and amplifies the relevance of CMOA’s collection today.”
Each of the eight chapters foregrounds artistic decision-making as an urgent and powerful form of thinking in the world. These chapters include:
A New Horizon – Prompted by new artistic freedoms and a shifting global order following World War II, artists of the 1950s respond with innovative forms of abstraction in painting and sculpture.
Call of the Wild – In the late 1940s, a loose-knit band of northern European painters and poets called CoBrA experimented with art that was mischievous, playful, and irreverent. The gallery reintroduces CMOA’s extensive, rarely exhibited CoBrA collection.
More than Minimal – Though Minimalist works of the 1960s and 1970s may seem cold and impersonal, behind each is a story of touch, perception, and lived experience, lending a human dimension to otherwise simplified forms.
Night Poetry – Borrowing its title from a 1962 painting by the Pittsburgh-born artist Raymond Saunders, this dream-like gallery summons rarely seen works from the darker recesses of the collection.
Artists’ Cinema – Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the museum served as a hub for a vibrant local film community. This gallery features a rotating program of important and under-recognized works from the museum’s collection.
Less Than Half the Picture – The turmoil of the 1980s prompted widespread debate about of the value and role of art in society. A new generation of artists embraced politically charged ways of working in response to the most vital issues of the day.
The Persistence of Painting – From the rise of the internet to the ubiquity of digital cameras, today’s complex visual environment has pushed a centuries-old medium in unpredictable directions.
Free Radicals – How do artists locate themselves in our complex world? How do they redress historical omissions? How do they embody forms of resistance and protest? And how do they challenge tradition and the status quo?
Crossroads embraces a modular rather than chronological structure. This approach permits curators to refresh galleries in the future through new rotations and themes. Drawing from its broad collection, CMOA’s contemporary program will continue to surface ideas and stories that speak to our rapidly changing world.
Acting co-director and chief curator Catherine Evans says, “CMOA has an incredible collection, yet we are only able to present a sliver of it at any time. Crossroads signals a renewed energy for these galleries, and its format creates opportunities to do some deep digging into our holdings to prompt new perspectives and conversations. In 2019, we’re excited to bring more innovative approaches to engaging our visitors in our collection spaces.”
General operating support for Carnegie Museum of Art is provided by The Heinz Endowments and Allegheny Regional Asset District. The programs of the Heinz Architectural Center are made possible by the generosity of the Drue Heinz Trust. Carnegie Museum of Art receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Carnegie Museum of Art creates experiences that connect people to art, ideas, and one another.
We believe creativity is a defining human characteristic to which everyone should have access. CMOA collects, preserves, and presents artworks from around the world to inspire, sustain, and provoke discussion, and to engage and reflect multiple audiences.
Our world-class collection of over 30,000 works emphasizes art, architecture, photography, and design from the 19th century to the present. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art was founded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1895. Learn more: call 412.622.3131 or visit cmoa.org.