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Panopticon: An Art Spectacular

Through August 2003                                                                                                   


Speak Up About Art

An interactive art exhibition?  The curators of Panopticon broke all the “rules” about how to display art, and the education department took a new approach as well.  Stations throughout the exhibition pose provocative questions, present thoughtful comments, and invite viewer response.  Visitors may use notecards to write to the museum staff, to other visitors, or simply share their thoughts and responses.  While there are raves about the exhibition (“Overwhelming and delicious,”  “Wonderful in every way!” and “Excellent for families with young children,”), some people enter into a dialogue with the art itself. 


Visitors seem to be receptive to the intuitive groupings in the exhibition, and ready to be surprised.  “What a great body of work actually produced here in Western PA,” wrote one visitor about a gallery wall dedicated to regional art.


Pittsburgh writer and teacher Kristin Kovacic visited the exhibition with her daughter Rosalie, age 7, who enjoyed deciding which chair looked “most comfy, least comfy, weirdest, and not weirdest."  Kovacic adds, "If this show were in D.C., you wouldn’t be able to get in the door.  I like the fact that it isn’t sterile.  The art is friendlier in a jumble like that.  And I like finding what you know and seeing it next to something unfamiliar.  You see it differently.”


Take a Tour with the Experts

Several free audio tours escort visitors through the exhibition from a particular point of view. Richard Armstrong, the Henry J. Heinz II Director of the museum, comments on his favorite pieces, including Pierre Bonnard’s The Violet Fence, 1935, Anselm Keifer’s Midgard, 1980 – 85, and Isamu Noguchi’s Structure, 1945. Another tour, “A History of Chair Design” by Sarah Nichols, chief curator and curator of decorative arts, discusses the various chair themes in the exhibition, which include “curves,” “recycling,” and “geometry.”  The museum's own Art Cat has a special tour for children, inviting their responses to René Magritte’s The Heart of the World, 1956, with comments such as “Magritte believed that art isn’t something you figure out in your head . . . what kind of a dream can you make up about this unusual picture?”  New tours will be added throughout the exhibition.


The Panopticon Extravaganza

Saturday, February 22, 2003

7:30 p.m.– midnight

Chase away those mid-winter blues with this high-energy celebration hosted by the Women’s Committee of Carnegie Museum of Art.  The Panopticon Extravaganza features music and entertainment all evening, a full bar, and plenty of lighter fare.  There’s no dress code, but costumes are encouraged, so come as your favorite artist or your favorite work of art—just come!   

Ticket price is $90. For more information, call 412.622.3325


“It’s not space, it’s communication”

                                                  --Robert Venturi


Out of the Ordinary:  The Architecture and Design of Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Associates

Through February 2


“A playful, colorful manifestation of the philosophy of the designers,” is how Tracy Myers, curator of architecture, introduces the portion of Out of the Ordinary mounted in the Hall of Sculpture.


The centerpiece of this untraditional approach to architecture exhibitions is a large panel bearing a work entitled The Architect’s Dream, which the Philadelphia Museum of Art commissioned from Venturi and Scott Brown for this exhibition.  Modeled on a painting by Thomas Cole also called The Architect’s Dream, (1840), the original depicts an architect atop a column, reclining on a pile of architectural treatises.  “The theory of any profession is what grounds it,” explains Myers.  In the Cole painting, the background is a fantastic collection of classic buildings. Venturi and Scott Brown have added the signs and commercial structures that inspire them, the celebration of the everyday that informs their work.  Three plasma screens embedded in the panel also show various sources of inspiration.


Opposite this panel is a wall of aphorisms from the architects, such as “It’s not space, it’s communication.” and “Viva spatial and perceptual layering.”  Taped interviews with the architects, replicas of elements from their buildings, and video images of completed projects make this space a lively introduction to the influential thinking of Venturi and Scott Brown.


No Ordinary Day at CMA

Saturday, February 1


Venturi and Scott Brown Lecture

Carnegie Lecture Hall, 3:00 p.m.

Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown will speak about Sign and Pattern in Today’s Mannerist Architecture.  They champion architecture that is as much about communication as it is about space and form, and choose "messy vitality over obvious unity." Free with museum admission.  [underlined copy can be removed if needed to fit copy]


University Night

Museum of Art Galleries, 5:00 p.m.

In the evening, college students, faculty, and staff with valid ID are admitted free to University Night. Art, music, and food enliven the museum for this exclusive evening. Come look, contemplate, discuss, and explore.  For more information call 412.622.3288 or check the web site at


Recent Acquisitions:

Modern Art  from the Carpenter Collection


Charles H. Carpenter Jr. never saw art as an investment.  Guided by taste, he and his late wife Mary Grace managed to build an impressive and eclectic collection of art that was exhibited at Carnegie Museum of Art in 1996.  At that time, the museum was allowed to choose 13 works from the collection.  Carpenter and his family have now finalized the transfer of these pieces to the museum.


“He had an unusual instinct for emerging artists,” says Henry J. Heinz II Director Richard Armstrong of Carpenter.  “That was coupled with a real reservoir of knowledge – about scrimshaw, Shaker furniture, 19th century American silver . . .  When he became engaged in a subject, he became quite an expert.”


The Carpenters became personal friends with many of the artists they collected, paying Claes Oldenburg’s rent for a time, and being one of the first people to encourage Jim Dine with, as the artist said, “anything besides words.”  This mutual respect culminated in the bequest by artist Charles Shaw of his entire life’s work.


Works from the Carpenter collection recently acquired by the museum include Jim Dine, The Coat (1961); Gilbert and George, Dead Boards (1976); Ellsworth Kelly, Two Panels: Green Orange  (1970); Ad Reinhardt, Red Painting; and others.  As Phillip M. Johnston, former Henry J. Heinz II Director of the museum, wrote in 1996, “The Carnegie Museum of Art is immeasurably enriched by these works, as it has been in so many ways by its long association with Mary Grace and Charles Carpenter.”



A Witty Look at Reality

Christian Jankowski  

Forum Gallery

January 25-April 27     

Opening reception January 24, 7:00 p.m.  


Christian Jankowski’s multi-media works blur the border between fiction and reality, using video to document situations that arise from circumstances both contrived and spontaneous.  He has filmed himself shopping for groceries, using a bow and arrow to bring down his prey of yogurt or detergent; he calls television fortune tellers and asks them about the success of an upcoming art work, then uses their (all encouraging) responses as the piece itself, which he exhibited in the 1999 Venice Biennale.  


Carnegie Museum of Art has commissioned a new video from Jankowski featuring puppet icons popularized through the media. “Christian’s video will bring these legendary puppet characters together in a slightly absurd 'puppet conference,' allowing them to speak for themselves on issues related to the history and philosophy of puppeteering," says Elizabeth Thomas, assistant curator of contemporary art. His gently witty and thought-provoking work has been seen in solo as well as group exhibitions throughout the United States and Europe.


CMA Cinema

Slovak New Cinema

January 16–February 22

These six films, all made since 1994, represent the work of established contemporary Slovak directors.  Diverse in both style and content, this series has been organized with the assistance of Professor Martin Votruba of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Pittsburgh, and with the support of the Slovak Embassy, Washington D.C., and the Western Pennsylvania Slovak Cultural Association.  The films will be shown on Thursdays and Saturdays.


New Novo Brazil

January 10–February 23

The series presents seven recent films, including the international hit Central Station (1998), directed by Walter Salles, which heralded a new wave of outstanding films from Brazil.  Also included is Orfeu (1999), directed by Carlos Diegues, who was a key figure in the original Cinema Novo movement in Brazil during the 1960s and 1970s.  The films will be shown on Fridays and Sundays.


All films are at 7:30 in the Museum of Art Theater.






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