Media Archive: Contemporary Art

Ian Cheng’s Artificially-Intelligent Art at CMOA

Contact: Jonathan Gaugler | gauglerj@cmoa.org | 412.688.8690 / 412.216.7909

Opening September 22, 2017
Forum Gallery, Carnegie Museum of Art

Ian Cheng, Emissary Sunsets The Self, 2017, live simulation and story, infinite duration, sound, Courtesy of the artist, Pillar Corrias London, and Standard (Oslo)

Ian Cheng, Emissary Sunsets The Self, 2017, live simulation and story, infinite duration, sound, Courtesy of the artist, Pilar Corrias London, and Standard (Oslo)

Pittsburgh, PA…Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA) announces a solo exhibition by Ian Cheng (b. 1984). Cheng presents Emissary Sunsets The Self, an open-ended digital simulation displayed on a massive, 13 foot-wide LED screen in CMOA’s Forum Gallery. The artist is best known for his digital simulation works that draw on his background in cognitive science and employ rudimentary forms of artificial intelligence (AI). Coding these unpredictable animated worlds from the ground up, he uses the language of video games to probe complex themes such as evolution, human behavior, and the history of consciousness.

Emissary Sunsets The Self is the third work in the artist’s Emissaries trilogy (2015–2017). Each simulation in the series—set on the same volcanic site separated by thousands of years—explores a pivotal moment in Cheng’s interpretation of cognitive evolution, past and future. His protagonists, or Emissaries, are equipped with a unique AI composed of multiple competing inner models, allowing them to shape—and be shaped by—their strange environments as they work to accomplish narrative tasks.

“In each episode,” Cheng writes, “the Emissary—caught between unraveling old realities and emerging weird ones—attempts to achieve a series of deterministic narrative goals, an analogy to the narrative nature of consciousness. But crucially these goals can be set off course, procrastinated, disrupted by the underlying simulation and its non-narrative agents who vex the Emissary with other kinds of minds.”

Ian Cheng, Emissary Sunsets The Self, 2017, live simulation and story, infinite duration, sound, Courtesy of the artist, Pillar Corrias London, and Standard (Oslo)

Ian Cheng, Emissary Sunsets The Self, 2017, live simulation and story, infinite duration, sound, Courtesy of the artist, Pillar Corrias London, and Standard (Oslo)

Emissary Sunsets The Self takes place many millennia in the future on a volcanic atoll now under the control of MotherAI. We observe the confrontation between radical mutations in the sentient atoll and the local inhabitants who were long ago engineered to immunize the landscape from monstrous deviations.

Read about the Emissaries series, including narratives,  technical overview, and behavior diagrams, at the artist’s website.

Support
This exhibition is made possible through the generous support of AVS, Ltd.

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
Carnegie Museum of Art enriches people’s lives through art. The museum is committed to global engagement and regional advancement. We champion creativity and its importance to society with experiences that welcome, inspire, challenge, and inform. Our core activities—collecting, conserving, presenting, and interpreting works of art—make those experiences possible. 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.

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20/20: The Studio Museum in Harlem and Carnegie Museum of Art

Contact: Jonathan Gaugler | gauglerj@cmoa.org | 412.688.8690 / 412.216.7909

Pittsburgh, PA…Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA) announces 20/20: The Studio Museum in Harlem and Carnegie Museum of Art, a major contemporary group exhibition opening July 22, 2017, in the museum’s Heinz Galleries. Featuring a diverse array of makers and media, 20/20 showcases artworks from two museums that address notions of identity and social inequality in art and life across the 20th century and into the 21st.

High-resolution images are available.

In a unique institutional collaboration, curators Eric Crosby and Amanda Hunt present a group exhibition with works by 40 artists, 20 each from the collections of CMOA and the Studio Museum. Responding to a tumultuous and deeply divided moment in our nation’s history, the curators have mined these collections to offer a metaphoric picture of America today. Spanning nearly 100 years—from 1920s photographs by James VanDerZee to recent works by Kerry James Marshall, Ellen Gallagher, and Collier Schorr—20/20 provides a critical opportunity to prompt conversations about the necessity of art during times of social and political transformation.

Noah Davis, "Black Wall Street," 2008, Oil and acrylic on canvas, The Studio Museum in Harlem, gift of David Hoberman, 2014.17.2, Photo: Adam Reich

Noah Davis, “Black Wall Street,” 2008, Oil and acrylic on canvas, The Studio Museum in Harlem, gift of David Hoberman, 2014.17.2, Photo: Adam Reich

Institutional Collaboration

While at first glance the two institutions might seem very different—one a general art museum in Western Pennsylvania and the other a culturally specific museum in New York City—a closer look reveals shared histories and values. Both museums are committed to presenting contemporary art within a broader historical context, and are situated in communities where black culture flourished during and after the Great Migration and continues to thrive today. These similarities, as well as their many differences, provided fertile ground for making this exhibition.

Founded in 1968, The Studio Museum in Harlem has provided a unique platform for over one hundred emerging artists through its Artist-in-Residence program, demonstrating the institution’s commitment to working with, and collecting from, contemporary artists of African descent. Since its founding in 1895, Carnegie Museum of Art has sought to survey and collect the very best of contemporary art on an increasingly global scale with its many Carnegie Internationals. It has also presented the Forum series since 1990, a dynamic program of exhibitions by some of today’s most innovative contemporary artists.

Additionally, the Studio Museum and CMOA share a commitment to building, stewarding, and exhibiting collections that portray rich and diverse artistic heritages. The Studio Museum’s collection features nearly 2,000 works dating from the 19th century to the present, focusing on art-historical contributions by artists of African descent and work influenced and inspired by black culture. The museum is also the custodian of an extensive archive of photography by James VanDerZee, the renowned chronicler of the Harlem community from 1906 to 1983. CMOA’s collection of more than 30,000 objects features a broad spectrum of visual arts primarily from the 19th century to the present, including painting, sculpture, prints and drawings, film and video, photography, architectural casts and models, and decorative arts. The museum also houses the archive of nearly 80,000 negatives by Pittsburgh photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris.

Exhibition Themes

20/20 draws together works from these important collections in dialogue. The exhibition unfolds through a thematic exploration of the foundations of our national condition, ultimately championing the critical role of art in political and individual expression. The first section of the exhibition, titled “A More Perfect Union,” presents a group of works that consider the formation of our democracy and shifting notions of national identity. A 1944 painting by the self-taught Pennsylvania-born artist Horace Pippin depicts an imagined scene of a young Abraham Lincoln reaching for his first book by candlelight. Presented alongside works by Lyle Ashton Harris, Jasper Johns, Glenn Ligon, Louise Nevelson, and Gordon Parks, Pippin’s image resonates in the present, signaling how essential the quest for knowledge remains to the Constitution’s democratic promise of unity.

Collier Schorr, "The First Lady (Diplomat’s Room, Rihanna, 20 Minutes)," 2016, dye transfer sublimation print, mounted on aluminum, Carnegie Museum of Art, The William T. Hillman Fund for Photography, ©Collier Schoor, courtesy 303 Gallery, New York

Collier Schorr, “The First Lady (Diplomat’s Room, Rihanna, 20 Minutes),” 2016, dye transfer sublimation print, mounted on aluminum, Carnegie Museum of Art, The William T. Hillman Fund for Photography, ©Collier Schorr, courtesy 303 Gallery, New York

The following two sections of the exhibition—“Working Thought” and “American Landscape”—expand on this by mapping contemporary American experience as a product of historical inheritances. “Working Thought” considers the basis of the national economy and the labor needed to sustain it, with works by Melvin Edwards, David Hammons, Kara Walker, Nari Ward, and others. Walker’s silhouetted narrative scenes interrogate the conditions of enslavement and forced production in the Antebellum South, while Edwards’s Lynch Fragments accumulate cast-off industrial scraps into welded sculptures that reflect on histories of racial violence in America.

In turn, “American Landscape” considers the effects of our national economy on lived experience through artworks that document or express the built environment, past and present. The photographs of LaToya Ruby Frazier and Zoe Strauss record the effects of industry and dispossession on marginalized communities, while more abstract works by Mark Bradford, Abigail DeVille, and Kori Newkirk make use of everyday and found materials to reclaim and reinvent our perspective on natural and urban landscapes.

At the center of 20/20, a section titled “Documenting Black Life” is dedicated to the work of Charles “Teenie” Harris and James VanDerZee. These two prolific photographers working in the post–World War I era captured daily life of the black middle class. VanDerZee and Harris depict Harlem and Pittsburgh, respectively, both destinations of the Great Migration, as bustling, vibrant communities. Presented together, these artists testify to the power of the photographic image as it has recorded the American experience.

The final two sections of 20/20—“Shrine for the Spirit” and “Forms of Resistance”—map a spectrum of artistic response to more current conditions. Works by Edgar Arceneaux, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Ben Jones, Quentin Morris, and Thaddeus Mosley offer quiet, sublime moments of spirituality and introspection, while more directly political gestures by Lorraine O’Grady, Howardena Pindell, and Lorna Simpson explore the power of language, identity, and performance as instruments of institutional critique. This final gallery also showcases CMOA’s newly acquired work from 2016, Untitled (Gallery), by Kerry James Marshall, whose practice challenges art history by reinserting the black figure emphatically into the canon of Western painting.

Taken together, the artworks in this unprecedented collaboration offer multiple pathways for reflection and interpretation, allowing visitors to meditate on the long, complex history of our country. “20/20 is not a history lesson,” the curators explain. “It is an opportunity for expanded conversation—between artists and artworks, curators and audiences, institutions and cities.

Featured Artists

20/20: The Studio Museum in Harlem and Carnegie Museum of Art features works by:

Terry Adkins
Edgar Arceneaux
Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol
Romare Bearden
Mark Bradford
Beverly Buchanan
Barbara Chase-Riboud
Noah Davis
Abigail DeVille
Thornton Dial
Melvin Edwards
LaToya Ruby Frazier
Ellen Gallagher
David Hammons
Charles “Teenie” Harris
Lyle Ashton Harris
Jenny Holzer
Jasper Johns
Ben Jones
Titus Kaphar
Jon Kessler
Glenn Ligon
Kerry James Marshall
Rodney McMillian
Meleko Mokgosi
Quentin Morris
Thaddeus Mosley
Louise Nevelson
Kori Newkirk
Lorraine O’Grady
Gordon Parks
Howardena Pindell
Horace Pippin
Pope.L
Tim Rollins and K.O.S.
Collier Schorr
Lorna Simpson
Zoe Strauss
James VanDerZee
Kara Walker
Nari Ward

Support
This exhibition is organized by Carnegie Museum of Art in partnership with The Studio Museum in Harlem and curated by Eric Crosby, Richard Armstrong Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Carnegie Museum of Art, and Amanda Hunt, former Associate Curator, The Studio Museum in Harlem, now Director of Education and Public Programs, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

This exhibition was organized by Carnegie Museum of Art in partnership with the Studio Museum in Harlem.

Major funding for this exhibition is provided by The Henry L. Hillman Fund. Additional support is provided by The Heinz Endowments, The Fellows of Carnegie Museum of Art, and The Ruth Levine Memorial Fund.

General operating support for Carnegie Museum of Art is provided by The Heinz Endowments and Allegheny Regional Asset District. 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.

The Heinz Endowments is devoted to the mission of helping our region prosper as a vibrant center of creativity, learning, and social, economic, and environmental sustainability. Core to this work is the vision of a just community, where all are included and where everyone who calls southwestern Pennsylvania home has a real and meaningful opportunity to thrive.

About Carnegie Museum of Art
Carnegie Museum of Art enriches people’s lives through art. The museum is committed to global engagement and regional advancement. We champion creativity and its importance to society with experiences that welcome, inspire, challenge, and inform. Our core activities—collecting, conserving, presenting, and interpreting works of art—make those experiences possible. 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.

About The Studio Museum in Harlem
Founded in 1968 by a diverse group of artists, community activists and philanthropists, The Studio Museum in Harlem is internationally known for its catalytic role in promoting the work of outstanding artists of African descent. Now approaching its 50th anniversary, the Studio Museum is preparing to construct a new home at its current location on Manhattan’s West 125th Street, designed by internationally renowned architect David Adjaye with Cooper Robertson as the first building created expressly for the institution’s program. The new building will enable the Studio Museum to better serve a growing and diverse audience, provide additional educational opportunities for people of all ages, expand its program of world-renowned exhibitions, effectively display its singular collection, and strengthen its trailblazing Artist-in-Residence program. Learn more: call 212.864.4500 or visit studiomuseum.org.

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CMOA & Sarris announce art-inspired chocolate

March 31, 2017

Contact: Jonathan Gaugler | gauglerj@cmoa.org | 412.688.8690 / 412.216.7909

Pittsburgh, PA…Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA) announces a new collaboration with Canonsburg, PA-based Sarris Candies. The museum and confectioner team up this spring with the release of a chocolate figure inspired by one of the world’s most iconic works in modern sculpture, Alberto Giacometti’s Walking Man I (1960) which holds a place of pride in CMOA’s collection.

Cast in bronze, Walking Man I depicts a tall, faceless man with strangely elongated limbs, striding onward with a purposeful momentum.

Walking Man embodies humility and humanity, but also the utter isolation of the individual,” said Catherine Evans, Chief Curator at CMOA. “The sculpture is a masterwork of force and movement. Plus, those long, lumpy limbs already look like chocolate-covered pretzels.”

Dubbed Chocometti, the new offering of dark chocolate with pretzel legs stays true to Sarris’s popular confections. “Chocolate pretzels are one of our strongest sellers, shipping all over the country” said Sarris CEO Bill Sarris. “We jumped at the idea to take it in a different direction.”Open box wtih Sarris and Carnegie Museum of Art logo showing chocolate figure in a plastic tray

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New work by Michael Williams at CMOA

Contact: Jonathan Gaugler, gauglerj@cmoa.org, 412.688.8690 / 412.216.7909

Michael Williams
Forum 78
April 21–August 27, 2017
Carnegie Museum of Art

Pittsburgh, PA…Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA) announces Michael Williams, opening April 21, 2017, the 78th installment in the museum’s Forum Series. Featuring a suite of new paintings and a series of drawings, the presentation is Williams’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States.

High resolution images are available.

Abstract image of a boy dreaming about lacrosse in a lecture about global warming

Michael Williams, “Purple Shebdy,” 2015, oil, airbrush, and inkjet on canvas, 108 x 85 in. Courtesy of the artist; CANADA, New York; Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels; and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich, © Michael Williams

Over the last 10 years, Michael Williams has created paintings known for their layered imagery, eye-popping color, and use of techniques such as airbrushing and inkjet printing. His large-scale works often begin as drawings either on paper or on the computer screen before they are printed or transferred to canvas and then embellished with oil paint. The narrative content of Williams’s work reveals his dark sense of humor and exploration of the role of the painter as observer. Three large canvases in the exhibition, for example, develop from the same scene from one of the artist’s drawings: a student seated in a classroom daydreaming about lacrosse during a lecture about global warming. Williams’s wickedly funny allegories merge with abstract painting and amoebic shapes, which sometimes fill the entirety of his canvases. The resulting works offer the eye a dense and absorbing terrain of color and form. Pushing his experiments with a large-scale latex printer one step further, Williams also presents two paintings that are wholly printed in contrast to his works in oil paint.

Upstairs in CMOA’s Scaife Galleries, which house the museum’s collection, a satellite installation of Williams’s “puzzle drawings” reveals a different aspect of the artist’s process. Since 2010, Williams has traveled with photocopies of his own drawings. While on the road, he cuts up and collages these copies to make new works on paper. The rough outline of a jigsaw puzzle piece is a consistent motif in the ongoing series; Williams also uses it as a tool for pure visual invention. Creating gaps in his preexisting imagery, the puzzle shape allows him to discover new forms of abstraction between recognizable things.

Abstract line drawing with puzzle-piece like shapes cut out and re-drawn

Michael Williams, “untitled puzzle drawing,” 2016, ink and photocopy collage on paper, 12 x 9 in., Courtesy of the artist; CANADA, New York; Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels; and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich, © Michael Williams

Michael Williams is organized by Eric Crosby, Richard Armstrong Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Carnegie Museum of Art.

About the Artist
Michael Williams was born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, in 1978 and graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2000. Since that time, he has exhibited widely at institutions and venues in North America and Europe. In recent years, he has presented solo exhibitions at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; Gladstone Gallery, Brussels; Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich; CANADA, New York; VeneKlasen/Werner, Berlin; and Michael Werner Gallery, London. Additionally, his work has been featured in notable group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Dallas Museum of Art; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio; Ballroom Marfa, Marfa, Texas; Secession, Vienna; and the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow. Williams lives and works in Los Angeles.

 

Related Events

Opening Reception, Thursday, April 20, 7–8 p.m., CMOA Forum Gallery
Be the first to see CMOA’s newest exhibition. Join the artist Michael Williams and exhibition curator Eric Crosby for an in-gallery conversation about contemporary painting and the creative process. Free and open to the public.

Third Thursday, Thursday April 20, 8–11 p.m., CMOA
Stay after the opening reception for our monthly late-night hours. Advance: $10, members $8, students $5; Door: $15, members and students $10. Opening reception attendees $5.

Gallery Guide App
Visitors to the museum may also hear from the artist directly. Williams has selected highlights from CMOA’s world-class painting collection and shared his impressions in a sequence of audio recordings for the museum’s Gallery Guide app. The Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History’s Gallery Guide app may be downloaded at itunes.apple.com (search: CMOA).

Exhibition Catalogue
Michael Williams is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by CMOA and distributed by D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers. Contents include a text by exhibition curator Eric Crosby and an interview with the artist by art historian Suzanne Hudson. Available July 2017. For pre-order inquiries, please call the CMOA Store at 412.622.3216.

Support
Funding for the Forum series is generously provided by the Juliet Lea Hillman Simonds Foundation. Additional support for the exhibition is provided by the Carnegie Museum of Art Fellows and the Ruth Levine Memorial Fund. General operating support for Carnegie Museum of Art is provided by The Heinz Endowments and Allegheny Regional Asset District. 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.

Support for the exhibition catalogue is generously provided by CANADA, New York; Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich; and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels.

About the Forum Series
CMOA’s Forum Series is a dynamic program of exhibitions by some of today’s most innovative contemporary artists. Initiated in 1990, the series, which is presented in a dedicated gallery just off the museum’s main lobby, remains a vital aspect of CMOA’s contemporary program. It has presented more than 75 exhibitions since its inception, many of which have been museum debuts for artists who have gone on it achieve international renown. Artists featured in past Forum exhibitions include Jeff Wall, Yasumasa Morimura, Ann Hamilton, Thaddeus Mosley, Kiki Smith, Mel Bochner, Rivane Neuenschwander, Ragnar Kjartansson, Cory Arcangel, Alison Knowles, and many others.

Carnegie Museum of Art
Carnegie Museum of Art enriches people’s lives through art. The museum is committed to global engagement and regional advancement. We champion creativity and its importance to society with experiences that welcome, inspire, challenge, and inform. Our core activities—collecting, conserving, presenting, and interpreting works of art—make those experiences possible. 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.

CMOA Acquires Kerry James Marshall Painting

December 14, 2016

Contact: Jonathan Gaugler | gauglerj@cmoa.org | 412.216.7909

Pittsburgh, PA…Lynn Zelevansky, The Henry J. Heinz II Director at Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA), announced today the major acquisition of a new painting by Kerry James Marshall, Untitled (Gallery), 2016.

Marshall, one of the greatest living painters in America today, is best known for his decades-long commitment to reinserting the black figure into the canon of Western art history. This acquisition represents an important development in CMOA’s relationship with the artist. For the 1999 Carnegie International, Marshall produced RYTHM MASTR, a multipart comic strip published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that was used to paper over display case windows at the museum. At the time, Marshall’s work did not enter the collection, so this acquisition fills a gap in CMOA’s holdings, while also reflecting on the legacy of the International.

Woman in patterned skirt stands against gallery wall next to framed photograph

Kerry James Marshall, “Untitled (Gallery),” 2016, Acrylic on PVC panel, 60 ½ x 48 ½ in., Carnegie Museum of Art, The Henry L. Hillman Fund, 2016.52, ©Kerry James Marshall

Untitled (Gallery) depicts a single female figure posing as if for a snapshot against the white wall of a gallery lined with framed black-and-white photographs. Spotlights illuminate the artworks, creating concentric rings of light on the wall. Beside the figure hangs a photograph of a nude woman lying on a bearskin rug in front of a fireplace—a familiar pinup trope but also a reference to glamorous 1930s Hollywood production stills. The juxtaposition prompts a host of questions: Is the subject of the painting also the subject of the photograph? Is she the artist? The curator or perhaps the gallerist? In addition to its many possible interpretations, Marshall’s painting demonstrates his mastery of the medium and his encyclopedic knowledge of its history at each turn.

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