Art goes from cutting edge to old world

Kurt Shaw
| Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, 8:55 p.m.

With a presidential election looming, all eyes the world over will be on the United States this fall.

And Pittsburgh will be able to reciprocate with a panoptic view of its own when the Carnegie Museum of Art unveils “Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World's Fairs, 1851-1939” on Oct. 13.

For five years, decorative arts and design curator Jason Busch has been tirelessly tracking down a treasure trove of artifacts from the world's fairs of the past — from the London Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations in 1851 to the New York World's Fair in 1939.

Featuring more than 200 examples of domestic objects created by some of the biggest names in design associated with the Industrial Revolution (think Tiffany, Lalique, Herman Miller, etc.) you won't want to miss this impressive exhibit of international innovation. It continues through Feb. 24.

And while at the Carnegie, don't forget to check out “White Cube, Green Maze: New Art Landscapes,” up now through Jan. 13 in the Heinz Architectural Center.

Featuring six sites from around the globe that act as outdoor museums — from the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle, to the Benesse Art Site on the tiny island of Naoshima in the Seto Inland Sea of southern Japan — this exhibit includes models and drawings by some of today's most cutting-edge architects and landscape designers.

If the cutting edge isn't quite your thing, then you may want to go old school and visit the Frick Art & Historical Center, where everything old is cool. That's where the exhibit “Impressions of Interiors: Gilded Age Paintings of Walter Gay” will open on Oct. 5. An American artist, Walter Gay (1856–1937) specialized in painting interior views of elegant homes — like the Frick family home, Clayton — in the late-19th and early-20th-centuries. So, if ornate antique French furniture and sumptuous silk wall coverings are your thing, then you'd better seek out this exhibit before it closes Jan. 6.

Over at the Andy Warhol Museum, the exhibit “Warhol: Headlines” is sure to grab some headlines of its own when it opens on Oct. 14. That's because this groundbreaking exhibit will bring together 80 works by the artist from the museum's collection and beyond that showcase the pop art star's obsession with tabloid journalism and all things sensational, from car crashes to the rubber-neck-worthy lifestyle of Jackie Onassis.

Much like Warhol, Deborah Kass was an art student at Carnegie Mellon University who went on to New York City and to create art that connects with pop culture, star power and art history. Her mid-career retrospective “Deborah Kass: Before and Happily Ever After,” which will feature 75 paintings, photographs and sculptures, opens Oct. 27 at the Warhol Museum, and is sure to complement Warhol's works. Both exhibits continue through Jan. 6.

Female artists like Kass are a powerful force in the art world these days, and the latest exhibit to open at the Mattress Factory proves it. Titled “Feminist and ...,” it was guest curated by Carnegie Mellon art professor Hilary Robinson and explores feminism through the installation works of six international women artists. It continues through May 26.

And not to be outdone, the Westmoreland Museum of American Art's “Modern Dialect: American Paintings From the John and Susan Horseman Collection” brings together 40 American scene paintings from the 1930s and 1940s that touch upon the American dream. Depicting moments of struggle and triumph through the past century's most difficult decade in America, this traveling exhibit organized by the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis, Tenn., is up through Nov. 4.

Over at Silver Eye Center for Photography, the exhibit “No Job No Home No Peace No Rest: An Installation by Will Steacy” examines the current status of the American dream through a massive collage made up of thousands of clippings from newspapers Steacy has collected over the years, including his own photographs, writings and found objects. It will remain on display through Dec. 15.

Finally, sometimes you just have to laugh. And if that's your goal, then head over to Society for Contemporary Craft. That's where the current exhibit “Humor in Craft,” which was organized by Brigitte Martin, author of a book by the same title, showcases the amusing works of 32 artists from the United States and abroad. From political satire to the downright silly, there are plenty of pieces that will put a smile on your face, now through Oct. 27.

Kurt Shaw is the art critic for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy