Author Archives: Matthew Newton, Associate Editor, Carnegie Museum of Art

On the Death of Chris Burden, Iconoclast and Art-World Agitator


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Chris Burden during his performance piece ‘Shoot’ at F-Space Gallery in Santa Ana, California, 1971.

Chris Burden, the influential American performance, sculpture, and installation artist known for courting controversy with his work, died early Sunday morning at his home in Topanga Canyon, California, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times. The cause of death was malignant melanoma. Burden was 69.

The Boston-born artist rose to prominence in the early 1970s following a series of works focused on personal danger as artistic expression. In one of his earliest and most well-known performance pieces, Shoot (1971), Burden stood in front of a white wall at F-Space Gallery in Santa Ana, California, where he was then shot in the arm with a .22 caliber rifle at close range. Other “danger pieces” followed throughout the 1970s, including Five Day Locker Piece (1971), Match Piece (1972), Deadman (1972), B.C. Mexico (1973), Fire Roll (1973), TV Hijack (1972), Doomed (1975), and Honest Labor (1979).

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What We Learned about the Hidden Lives of Artworks


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Michael Belman, objects conservator at CMOA, applies a treatment to a statue during Uncrated, May 2015. Photo: Bryan Conley.

As the exhibition Uncrated: The Hidden Lives of Artworks comes to a close today, it’s worth looking back at the work conducted by the team of registrars, conservators, preparators, and curators that made the exhibition possible. When Uncrated was first proposed in fall 2014, it was viewed as an opportunity to assess and examine artworks long stored in gallery E—a little-known space located deep in the Heinz Galleries that had been used as storage for nearly 15 years. But as the idea developed, it became apparent that this exhibition offered more than an opportunity to review an inventory of artworks: it could also afford visitors a unique yet fleeting window into the museum’s permanent collection.

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A Tale of Two Museums: Sharing Rachel Whiteread’s Monolithic Staircase


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Rachel Whiteread, Untitled (Domestic), 2002, cast plaster on various armatures; Owned jointly by Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; George B. and Jenny R. Mathews Fund and Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; The Henry L. Hillman Fund.

Like most museums, CMOA often has multiple artworks from a single artist in its permanent collection. Rachel Whiteread, one of the Young British Artists and the first woman to receive the prestigious Turner Prize in 1993, is a perfect example. While Untitled (Yellow Bath) is one of nine featured objects in the exhibition Uncrated: The Hidden Lives of Artworks, CMOA has another monumental work from the British-born artist that boasts a substantially larger footprint in the galleries. It’s also an artwork that reveals a somewhat uncommon shared arrangement between two museums.

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How Richard Armstrong Championed Rachel Whiteread’s Monumental Art


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Richard Armstrong, director of CMOA from from 1996 to 2008, with Rachel Whiteread’s Untitled (Yellow Bath) when it was on view in the Scaife Galleries. This photograph, taken by Cornelia Karaffa, originally appeared in the September/October 1998 issue of Carnegie magazine.

In the fall 1998 issue of Carnegie magazine, Richard Armstrong, director of CMOA from 1996 to 2008, walked through the galleries with editor R. Jay Gangewere while discussing some of his favorite works in the museum’s permanent collection. Though Armstrong highlighted a number of artworks that dayPierre Bonnard, Nude in a Bathtub; Edgar Degas, The Bath (Le bain); Joan Mitchell, Wet Orange (Triptych); Edward Hopper, Cape Cod Afternoon; Willem de Kooning, Woman VI; and Mel Bochner, Measurement: Plant (Palm)he saved his praise for Rachel Whiteread’s Untitled (Yellow Bath) until last:

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How Museums Affect the Brain, the Art of the Cover, and Other News


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How Museums Affect the Brain: According to The Atlantic, a team of researchers at the Catholic University of America and the University of Utah have conducted a pilot study that provides evidence for architecture’s power to induce meditation. As Laura C. Mallonee at Hyperallergic explains: “The researchers wanted to find out whether people visiting museums, churches, and libraries experience similar brain activity to those practicing meditation. If they were able to show that architecture facilitates such contemplation, it would mean that the benefits of meditation can be achieved not only by ‘internally-induced (self-directed) methods,’ which such research tends to focus on, but also by outwardly imposed ones.”

The Art of the Cover: While we ran our own cover story this week about the making of artist Duane Michals’s beautiful new monograph, Liv Siddall over at It’s Nice That heaped praise on how The New Yorker produces a new and iconic cover each week: “What’s always boggled my mind is how The New Yorker goes through this gruelling tongue-biting process every week. It’s largely down to cartoon expert and art editor of The New Yorker, Francoise Mouly. Her and cover-obsessive contributor Mina Kaneko spend their time debating and discussing which artist would be up for the challenge of inhaling the essence of New York at that very moment, and translating it into an instantly engaging, witty image. The best part is, once the cover is out into the world, they speak to the artist about the process of making it, and what the city means to them.”

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