Category Archives: Events

Cassatt & Degas: An Unlikely Friendship


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Mary Cassatt, Young Women Picking Fruit, 1891, oil on canvas; Patrons Art Fund, 22.8. This work is currently on view in the Scaife Galleries.

…It may interest you to know what Degas said when he saw the picture you have just bought for your Museum. It was painted in 1891 in the summer, & Degas came to see me after he had seen it at Durand-Ruel’s. He was chary of praise but he spoke of the drawing of the woman’s arm picking the fruit & made a familiar gesture indicating the line & said no woman has a right to draw like that.

This excerpt from a letter written by Mary Cassatt, late in her life in 1922, to Carnegie Museum of Art director Homer Saint-Gaudens upon the museum’s acquisition of her painting Young Women Picking Fruit, includes a tantalizing reference to her old friend Edgar Degas (who had passed away in 1917). She also references an inside joke that had existed between the two artists going back decades. Here she remembers Degas’s observation of the S-curve lines formed by the arms of the figures in her large painting. This particular aspect of composition—the S-curve—became a recurring theme in the art of both artists beginning around the time of the final Impressionist exhibition in 1886, and can be seen again, for example, in Degas’s later pastel Dancers, c. 1897 (Detroit Institute of Arts). Join us on September 19 for the next Lunch & Learn program, where we’ll explore the full context of how and why compositional devices such as the S-curve became an important component of the exchanges between these great artists.

The artistic relationship between Cassatt and Degas is a subject that I had been working on for years before I arrived at Carnegie Museum of Art. It was the subject of my dissertation and has been integrated into many different curatorial projects over the years. Next week’s Lunch & Learn program will focus on the 40-year friendship and working interactions between these two major artists in the collection. We’ll discuss aspects of biography, their professional support for one another, and anecdotes surrounding their social interactions in the Impressionist milieu, including Cassatt’s occasional willingness to pose as a model for Degas. But primarily we’ll juxtapose examples of their art side-by-side to see how their artworks seem to be locked in a visual dialogue. My interest in these two artists together has always focused on how their works seem to be in conversation in terms of art production, subject matter, and composition.

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Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt at the Louvre: The Paintings Gallery, 1879–1880, etching, soft ground, aquatint, and drypoint on wove paper; Bequest of Charles J. Rosenbloom, by exchange, 76.57.1

It is well-understood that these two fiercely opinionated, independent, and sometimes difficult artists were close friends in Impressionist circles. In fact, it was through Degas’s invitation to Cassatt in 1877 that she joined the Impressionist exhibiting group in Paris. Cassatt was an expatriate from the United States (born in Allegheny City—now part of Pittsburgh!) and was the only American and one of only three women to ever exhibit with the French Impressionists. Though they were close friends, one of the difficulties in studying their interaction is that their correspondence between one another has been lost. Some of the most direct traces of their communication that remains manifests in their artwork—where they seem to respond to each other in a range of different ways. Interpreting these visual, aesthetic forms of communication, of course, leaves room for a great deal of ambiguity and subjective understanding. Their relationship was enveloped in the challenges of nineteenth-century gender politics and social conventions. Factors of age, nationality, and gender differences undoubtedly complicate the interpretation of their art and professional interactions.

Delving into the nuances of their artistic production and their occasionally fraught friendship helps produce greater understanding of Impressionist artistic circles—yet, looking at their art side-by-side and comparing the circumstances of their careers complicates our understanding of both of them as artists. Why would the cantankerous Degas, known for his occasionally difficult attitudes towards women, be drawn to the younger feminist/suffragist Cassatt, and vice versa? A mutual understanding as well as the sense that they could challenge each other and stand up to each other’s forceful personalities laid the groundwork for their enduring friendship and undoubtedly helped make each of them stronger artists.

Amanda Zehnder, Associate Curator of Fine Arts

Thanks, TeeRex


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Last Friday, we took advantage of the cool summer night and gathered at TeeRex Syndicate for our first Carnegie International /pittsburgh event. Live screen printing took place on the second level, where the crowd gathered to create their very own custom-made, limited edition 2013 Carnegie International swag. The Travelling Pittsburgh Craft-O-Tron Machine showed up to delight the crowd with a sampling of what local crafters are making, and Scott Connor of Evil Grin FX’s creepy creations brought enjoyment to all. And if you’ve been to the 2013 Carnegie International website recently, then you surely recognized curators Dan Byers, Daniel Baumann and Tina Kukielski joining in the festivities. East End Brewery beer flowed freely, alongside delectable eats from Brasero Grill and Cake Eaters Sweet Shoppe, and we made merry with a few hundred of our closest friends and neighbors. Thanks to everyone who joined us, and be sure to join us at Artists Image Resource for our next event on Friday, September 20!

Public Innovation Session with MAYA Design


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Thank you to everyone who participated in our Public Innovation Session with MAYA Design on July 18! In a lively conversation led by Mickey McManus, visitors shared their thoughts about current and potential experiences at Carnegie Museum of Art with each other and with museum staff (including museum director Lynn Zelevansky). We’re still sorting through the copious sticky notes on which people jotted down their reactions to and hopes for the museum; we’ll share some of the most powerful insights in posts to come. Stay tuned!

Vote for your favorite film!


Vote for your favorite film!Just a quick note to say the submissions are in for the third installment of the 2–Minute Film Festival at Carnegie Museum of Art! This year, aspiring moviemakers from around the globe sent in their best and briefest work responding to the theme “At Play.” The resulting videos reflect an amazingly broad and multi-faceted interpretation of play, at times absurd, touching, political, and abstract. For the first time in 2MFF’s history, you have the chance to watch each film online before the festival on July 18 and vote for your favorite entry. With the festival lineup decided, we’ve made each selected 2-Minute Film available to watch and vote for online! The film that receives the most votes (online and in–person) will receive the People’s Choice Award.

Event Details
Thursday, July 18, 2013
7:30 p.m.: Food, drink, and activities will begin
9 p.m.: Screening will begin
Carnegie Museum of Art Courtyard, 4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
$10 admission (includes one drink ticket). Parking is available in the Carnegie Museum lot for a $5 flat rate.

Come early for a drink on the house!
Before the Festival begins, MAYA Design will be hosting a Public Innovation Session to get your feedback on the museum. Be here at 6 p.m. in the Museum Café and share your opinions!

CAKEitecture!


Crowd Shot

This past Saturday, five teams of local architects and bakers competed for the title of “Master CAKEitect” to mark the opening of 20/20: Celebrating Two Decades of the Heinz Architectural Center.

The teams wowed everyone with their edible versions of iconic architecture from Pittsburgh and around the globe. Guest judges Virginia Montanez (aka PittGirl), Charles Rosenblum, and Jason Roth rated each cake on aesthetics, taste, and architectural integrity.

And the awards were…….

Honorary CAKEitect: Springboard Design and Sugar ‘N Spires, Rietveld ReWind: From Concept to Reality, yellow cake with buttercream icing:

Rietveld Rewind 1

Honorary CAKEitect: Architectural Confections (The Design Alliance and Gluuteny), Sydney Opera Cake, white cake and chocolate cake:

Sydney Opera 1

3rd Place, Apprentice CAKEitect: The Dirty Dozen (Young Architects Forum and Dozen Bake Shop), A Delicious Day in the Neighborhood!, rosemary bourbon cake with honey buttercream icing:

Pittsburgh Cake 1

2nd Place, Journeyman CAKEitect: Perkins Eastman and Madison Ave. Cakes, East End AAA Building, chocolate cake and yellow cake with vanilla buttercream icing:

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1st Place, Master CAKEitect: Loysen + Kreuthmeier Architects and Prantl’s Bakery, Fallingwater, yellow pound cake, white buttercream icing, and toasted almonds:

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Visitors were also invited to cast their vote for their favorite CAKEitecture with Monopoly money and buildings.

The winner of the People’s Choice Master CAKEitect award was Young Architects Forum and Dozen Bake Shop:

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Congratulations to Loysen + Kreuthmeier Architects, Prantl’s Bakery, Young Architects Forum and Dozen Bake Shop, Pittsburgh’s 2013 Master CAKEitects! The winning teams were awarded a trophy and an exclusive, behind-the-scenes museum tour with Heinz Architectural Center curator Tracy Myers.

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Members of Team Loysen + Kreuthmeier Architects / Prantl’s Bakery show off their 1st place trophy.
People's choice with cake
Dozen Bake Shop cake decorator Megan Hart stands next to the team’s People’s Choice creation.
Birthday Cake
Parkhurst Dining Service’s executive pastry chef Alice Leich joined in the celebration with a birthday cake depicting HAC.
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Visitors examine a model of the Yokohama International Port Terminal by Foreign Office Architects in 20/20
HatMaking
Adults and children alike created their own festive party hats. 
guests 8Visitors donned handmade party hats and sampled ice cream with their CAKEitecture.

A monumental thank you to all participants for sharing your confectionary creations with CMOA and the community—we’re in awe of your talent (and incredibly full)! You made CAKEitecture one of the museum’s best attended events, attracting 2,500+ Pittsburghers!

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Photo op of The Design Alliance and Gluuteny’s Sydney Opera Cake
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Demolishing Rietveld ReWind: From Concept to Reality
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Father and daughter pair Paul and Ella Rosenblatt of Springboard Design / Sugar ‘N Spires
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We couldn’t wait to get our hands on a slice of the Sydney Opera Cake!
the-endThese cakes never stood a chance.

Check out these shout-outs:

The Carnegie’s CAKEitecture: Building cakes, and a fan base

The Food Column: Let them build cake, then eat it, at CAKEitecture

Bakers, architects team up for Carnegie Museum pastry competition