Back Issues
Carnegie MuseumsMedia Kit

June 12 - August 8, 2004 • Heinz Galleries


Special Summer Events Focus on German Art

“ Make It New and Make Some Copies, Too.” The Art of German Expressionist Prints
Sat., June 12, 1 p.m., Carnegie Museum of Art Theater
Dr. Richard M. Hunt, former associate dean, Harvard University, will explore the significance of woodblock printmaking and the technical excellence and expressive passion of the artists represented in the exhibition.

Bier Tasting with Penn Brewery
Thurs., July 15, 6-9 p.m.
Enjoy another German art—the fine art of bier! Join us for a gala tasting and exhibition party, tour the exhibition, and sign up for a special members-only tutorial tasting with Penn Brewery owner, Tom Pastorius. Fee and pre-registration required. Call 412.622.3288 for more information.


“It’s extraordinary to get so much expertise together for one exhibition. The International is curated by one individual, but not without the help of some of the best minds in the business.”
-Laura Hoptman, curator of the 2004 Carnegie International

Defiance Despair Desire
20th-Century German Expressionists
Revive the Art of Printmaking

“One feels the pulse of an artist when one contemplates his graphic work.…The needle, the crayon, the cutting knife are simpler and therefore more penetrating means of expression than brush and color.” These words from German artist Gustave Schiefler capture the essence of the German Expressionist movement—an attempt by artists during the early decades of the 20th century to communicate the depths of human experience, primarily through printmaking.

This woodcut depicts a 12-year-old girl named Fränzi (Lina Franziska Fehrmann), one of many children who frequented the Brücke communal studio. Heckel and the other Brücke artists preferred Fränzi’s awkward yet natural positions to the artificial stances of professional models.
Erich Heckel, German, Stehendes Kind (Standing Child), 1910/11, color woodcut, Marcia and Granvil Specks Collection

German Expressionism is one of the major printmaking movements of the 20th century, according to Linda Batis, Carnegie Museum of Art’s associate curator of fine arts. “Although some of these artists worked as painters and sculptors as well, they all considered printmaking to be critical to their work,” says Batis. Drawing on a 400-year-old tradition of German printmaking, German Expressionist artists “spontaneously reinvented the medium,” she explains.

Visitors will be able to experience the power and raw beauty of German Expressionist prints when the exhibition Defiance Despair Desire: German Expressionist Prints from the Marcia and Granvil Specks Collection opens at Carnegie Museum of Art on June 12. This exhibition,
organized by the Milwaukee Art Museum, presents prints by 32 artists, including such luminaries of the German Expressionist movement as Käthe Kollwitz, Max Beckmann, George Grosz, Max Pechstein, and Emil Nolde.

Conrad Felixmüller, an artist and political activist from Dresden, founded the publication Menschen (People) to discuss the plight of European workers following the war. In the 1920s he depicted the life of workers in the industrial Ruhr River Valley, but often he used his own family as subject matter.
Conrad Felixmüller, German, Selbstbildnis mit Frau (Self-Portrait with Wife), 1920/1921, Milwaukee Art Museum

Concerned with such universal issues as war, death, inequality and injustice, the alienation of city life, and man’s relationship with nature, these artists were inspired by the bold, primitive, and expressive styles of Paul Gauguin, Edvard Munch, and Vincent van Gogh. “If you look at the woodcuts of German Expressionist artists, they’re unrefined yet beautiful,” says Batis. “These artists weren’t especially concerned with developing highly skilled technique. They were more concerned with expressing themselves as spontaneously as possible.” In fact, many of these artists were untrained in the medium, yet carved, printed, and distributed their woodcuts themselves, seeking to communicate with the broadest audiences possible. Along with reviving the woodcut as an expressive medium, German Expressionist artists also utilized such time-honored printmaking techniques as etchings, aquatints, drypoints, and lithographs.

The works in Defiance Despair Desire capture a period of tremendous social unrest in pre- and post-World War I Germany. Batis says, “This is a beautiful show that surveys the subject very thoroughly.” Among Batis’ favorite works in the exhibition are the color woodcuts by Erich Heckel that she describes as, “very bold, simplified, and extremely powerful,” and the works of Emil Nolde, which she calls “wonderful prints, very experimental. He was a real craftsman.”
Museum visitors also will have an opportunity to explore the earliest roots of German printmaking in a companion show featuring 65 prints from 15th-and 16th-century Germany that are part of Carnegie Museum of Art’s permanent collection. “I think it will be fascinating for visitors to see how printmaking started out 400 years earlier,” says Batis. The 20th-century German Expressionist prints are “fresh and different…astonishing really,” she adds. “It’s almost as if they went back to the 15th-century craft and said, ‘let’s reinvent it.’”


The Best Minds in the Business Help Shape the
2004 Carnegie International

Since its earliest years, the Carnegie International has drawn on the expertise of an international advisory committee to select artists and artworks. Laura Hoptman, curator of the 2004 Carnegie International, says that the committee’s contributions are invaluable: “One individual can’t know what is going on throughout the world. Advisors are our eyes and ears.”

Typically, the committee members are chosen by the curator. Laura has known each of her committee members over the past decade through her curatorial work at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City and elsewhere. Her international “dream team” includes: Francesco Bonami, curator of contemporary art at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and curator of the 2003 Venice Biennale; Gary Garrels, chief curator of drawing at MoMA; Japanese art critic Midori Matsui; Cuauhtemoc Medina, a professor of art criticism and a curator in Mexico; and artist Rirkrit Tiravanija, a professor at Columbia University whose work appeared in the 1995 Carnegie International.

The committee members offer different perceptions of international art and provide important feedback during the three years of preparation for the exhibition. Besides meeting three or four times to view slides and discuss artists and works, committee members keep in close contact by email, sharing images and ideas. For this International, each committee member also contributed articles about different artists for the exhibition’s catalogue.

Although the Carnegie International has a single curator, Laura says it could not succeed without this international committee working in concert. “It’s extraordinary to get so much expertise together for one exhibition,” she says. “The International is curated by one individual, but not without the help of some of the best minds in the business.”


More Aluminum by Design
A New Exhibition Highlights Recent Acquisitions
April 17 - August 8, 2004 • Forum Gallery

Isamu Noguchi, designer American, Pair of Alcoa Forecast Program Tables, 1957,
aluminum, gift of Torrence M. Hunt Sr.

Aluminum may be the most abundant metal on earth, but it wasn’t until the
last 100 years or so that aluminum’s versatility, light weight, and beauty were widely explored by manufacturers and designers. That period of discovery led to many of the greatest design and construction advances of the 20th century, a fact that was not lost on Carnegie Museum of Art, which began to seriously collect designed objects made from aluminum in 1997, in the process of organizing the exhibition, Aluminum by Design: Jewelry to Jets.

Since its closing in Pittsburgh in 2001, the exhibition has traveled to such cities as Paris, Montreal, London, Brussels, New York, and Miami. As a result of the tour’s success, the Museum of Art is recognized as one of the leading collectors of aluminum design, and it remains committed to enhancing its collection of aluminum objects.

More Aluminum by Design, on view in the Forum Gallery through August 8, features some of the more significant and fascinating aluminum design objects that have been acquired by the museum, either by gift or purchase, since the 2000 exhibition opened. “Aluminum is an amazing material that designers have reveled in exploring and exploiting,” says Sarah Nichols, curator of decorative arts. “This attraction is captured by the varied, fascinating, and important objects in the museum’s collection.”

A pair of tables designed by Isamu Noguchi in 1957 for Alcoa and a credenza designed by The German Fire Proofing Company in 1958 for Reynolds Metals are among the objects that Nichols says are outstanding examples of the aluminum industry’s promotion of the metal’s use in designed objects. Another piece from the 1950s is a two-piece dress made of aluminum thread and rhinestones. And for
a more contemporary twist, there is a screen made in 1993 by Brazilian brothers Fernando and Humberto Campana from recycled television antennas.


Recent Aquisition:

Allegory of Life by Giorgio Ghisi

Giorgio Ghisi, Italian, Allegory of Life (The Dream of Raphael), 1561, engraving, Charles J. Rosenbloom and Leisser Art Fund

Giorgio Ghisi is considered one of the most important mid-16th-century Italian engravers. When Curator Linda Batis found an outstanding impression of Ghisi’s most important print, Allegory of Life, she jumped at the opportunity to acquire it for Carnegie Museum of Art. “These major prints are becoming impossible to find,” says Batis. “They’re rare on the market. So, when a museum has an opportunity to acquire one, it is an opportunity not to be missed.”
Allegory of Life is a large, complex work that has never been fully deciphered. For more than 400 years, commentators have struggled with the interpretation of this work. Despite their differing views, they all agree the message is a hopeful one.

Batis said this particular print fits in well with Carnegie Museum of Art’s permanent collection. The museum has very important examples of Italian printmaking, including Andrea Mantegna (late 15th century) and Giulio Campagnola (early 16th century), says Batis. “One of the things I’ve tried to do is to create a historical continuum of printmaking in the museum’s collection. By adding certain landmarks, such as this Ghisi print, it’s possible to survey the medium,” she explains. “In addition, this print really is gorgeous.”

Back to Contents


Copyright (c) 2003 CARNEGIE magazine. All rights reserved.