Category Archives: Fine Arts

Scaife Galleries Renovation

Preparators Matt Cummings and Rob Capaldi hanging the first paintings in the newly renovated galleries.

Rosemary Sprig. Castleton Mist. Stuart Gold. Pomegranate. Tarrytown Green. Mysterious. Venezuelan Sea. Smoke Embers. Yes, the new paint colors for the Scaife Galleries renovation do sound like racehorses. Which makes sense because we’re nearing the final stretch.

Since this past spring, staff members from a range of departments—including the workshop, registrars, conservation, exhibitions, curatorial, publications, and others—have been busy updating five of the galleries, from refinishing floors and painting surfaces to selecting, refurbishing, and reinstalling some artworks that have been off view for a while. We think you’re going to like the changes.

There’s still plenty of work to be done in the next couple of months, but the reinstalled and renovated galleries will reopen September 15. Here’s a list of the popular works that are currently off view or are temporarily on view in Impressionism in a New Light. And here are some photos from the past few weeks:

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Impressionism in a New Light

Linda Benedict-Jones, Amanda Zehnder & Akemi May

We are asked all the time how long it took to put together Impressionism in a New Light. When we tell people that it took more than two years, they always wonder why. Well, there are lots of reasons for that. To begin, we had to simply sit down and discuss whether it made any sense to try to merge paintings, pastels, prints, and drawings with photographs. We had to survey our collection to see what we had, and this is more complicated than most people can imagine because it means looking at each possible work of art individually. Many of them are in storage; works on paper are fragile; and, frankly, lots of them had not been looked at for years and years.

After a lot of brainstorming that came from frequent get-togethers, we concluded that this curatorial partnership could make this show unique for the audience. Somewhere along the way these ideas had to be pitched to the director and the rest of the CMA staff. These shows never happen without careful planning, a well-designed budget, and help from colleagues in the development department to secure important sponsorships. Once we got the green light to move forward, we decided that most of the show could come from our own collection, but to include additional artists that would support specific points in the exhibition, we decided that the show would be enriched by a few carefully selected loans.

It’s probably safe to say that most people don’t realize what goes into securing loans for a museum exhibition. In our case, it meant setting up appointments with private collectors and at many different museums, including some that didn’t result in useful material for the show. Once we finally determined what our wish list would be, paperwork flew back and forth between our colleagues and potential lenders, with emails and phone calls that dealt with shipping, insurance, light levels, facility requirements, and much, much more. We were thrilled by the loans we secured for the show largely because we know that our visitors in western Pennsylvania have never had a chance to see these specific works from distant collections.

Akemi & Amanda marking final placement of the works

Planning for the actual installation took about a year. We had to figure out how best to present Monet’s Water Lilies, for example. We had to sort out how to recycle the carpeting from the Teenie Harris show for the second gallery. The workshop and conservation departments were key for these tasks and for the successful physical manifestation of the show; we worked with them hand in glove. Our curatorial assistant, Akemi May, was indispensable on every level and she helped us supervise three CMU interns to research period quotations for the walls. We relied on them to use a complicated computer program to determine how many works we could actually fit into the show, given the size of each and their placement on the walls. And as with any exhibition, we had to choose paint colors and work with the designer on graphics and the overall look of the show.

CMA art handlers preparing to move Monet’s Water Lilies from Scaife Galleries for the exhibition

Throughout it all we worked closely with our colleagues in the publications department, too, to attend to a wide variety of needs such as the 150 wall labels and text panels for the exhibition. These took an eternity to write and required lots of skillful editing. We watched with glee as they designed and printed these as well as 10 distinct bookmarks for the audience to enjoy. Speaking of writing, we also were interviewed for an extensive feature article in Carnegie Magazine that really showcases the exhibition and the depth of the content.

With our colleagues in the education and IT departments, we spent time exploring the advantages of including digital interactive devices for the galleries. We agreed that these would enhance the visitor’s experience by bringing some aspects of the show up to date. The amazing corps of docents worked really hard leading up to the opening date and we enjoyed talking with them on several occasions to get them geared up for some new ideas.  Thanks to our meetings with folks in the education department, we prepared for a nerve-wracking but exciting Opening Night with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra which meant that we got to visit the Maestro’s Suite at Heinz Hall to plan our “casual discussion” that would take place in front of 1,400 at Carnegie Music Hall. Speaking to such a large audience was a new experience for us both and the preparations for this program were at least a year in the making. In the end it went well and we were ready for our glass of champagne.

It truly takes a village to mount an exhibition like Impressionism in a New Light and we feel really fortunate to have the professional and skillful support network that helped us on this show.

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In Warhol’s Footsteps

Just like Andy Warhol, Duane Michals, Philip Pearlstein, and others before them, many young artists from the region get their start in our studio classes, designed for students in grades 5–9. The Art Connection Annual Student Exhibition is a chance for these artists to share their vision, and the diversity of materials and styles currently on display in the Hall of Sculpture is pretty astounding. The exhibition features a mix of over 100 paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture, and mixed media works, and is on view until next Thursday, May 3. After seeing the show up close, it’s clear these local artists have promising futures—come see the show and give them your support!

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General support for the museum’s exhibition program 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.

Spring is Here!

Despite the surprise smattering of hail and snow seen across Pittsburgh yesterday, today marks the official start of spring here at the museum with the opening of the fourth annual Art in Bloom, a four-day celebration featuring traditional and contemporary flower arrangements paired with paintings, sculpture, furniture, and decorative art objects from CMA’s collection (photos below).

Art in Bloom is open today and will be on view until this Sunday, April 15. Don’t miss these related events:

Preview Gala—“Tiptoe Through the Tulips” (Thurs. April 12)

Lecture & Luncheon with Renowned Florist Els Teunissen—“Flowers in Our Lives” (Fri. April 13)

Special thanks to the Women’s Committee for all of their hard work in support of this annual event. And thanks to the garden clubs, florists, and other organizations that have brought the best part of spring into our galleries:

Bidwell Training Center Horticulture Department
Carnegie Museum of Art Docents
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Charleroi Garden Club
Fox Chapel Garden Club
Garden Club of Allegheny County
Garden Club of Forest Hills
Garden Club of McKeesport
The Gentlemen Fans of Window Box Garden Club
Grapevine Garden Club
Hillcrest Garden Club
Ichiyo School Ikebana meeting at Phipps Garden Center, Pittsburgh
Leetsdale Garden Club
Nancy Lewis & MeMe Betters
Ohara School of Ikebana, Pittsburgh Chapter
Perennial Garden Club
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
Pucketos Garden Club
Seeders and Weeders Garden Club
Sogetsu School of Ikebana
Trowel and Error Garden Club
Tusca Ridge Garden Club
Valley Garden Club
The Village Garden Club of Sewickley
Window Box Garden Club
Women’s Committee, Carnegie Museum of Art

Why so many photos? Well, there’s a lot to see. Of course, to smell the flowers, you’ll just have to stop by.

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1,001 Nights = A Few Hundred Pounds

Okay, so you won’t find that in your standard chart of weights and measures, but you’re going to have to take our word for it. Yesterday the bulk of the museum’s installation and preparation staff were on hand to hang one of the most treasured works from our collection and a visitor favorite—Henri Matisse’s massive paper cut-out, The Thousand and One Nights—in preparation for the exhibition opening tomorrow (April 7) . Over 12 feet in length, the work requires many art handlers to safely mount it on the wall. Here are some photos of the installation team at work…

The organizer for the exhibition, curator of fine arts Louise Lippincott, adds: 

“If you look closely at the collage, you can see the pencil marks on the paper defining the placement of each cut out. You can read the watermark in the paper (Arches). You can see tack holes in the corners of the large shapes, made when Matisse pinned them to the walls of his studio. You can see how small scraps of paper were assembled to make shapes and letters. You can see the overlap of one cut-out form upon another. In other words, you can see exactly how it was made. These details are too subtle to show up in a reproduction—it’s only possible to see them in the gallery.”

Due to the light-sensitive nature of this delicate giant, Henri Matisse: The Thousand and One Nights will be only on view for a limited time (closing July 15) to help reduce damage from ultraviolet light and prolong the life of this important work. The exhibition includes a drawing and a wood block print by Matisse, as well as photographs showing his studio at the time he created The Thousand and One Nights with the help of his assistants.