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Carnegie International's success keeps it as one of Pittsburgh's art gems

| Tuesday, April 15, 2014, 9:11 p.m.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Adam Burge of London, United Kingdom dismantles “Tip,” an outdoor sculpture of wood, fabric, cement and spray paint by the British sculptor Phyllida Barlow outside the Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland on Monday, April 14, 2014. The piece was part of the museum's 2013 Carnegie International.
Phyllida Barlow's piece TIP is constructed outside the Carngie Museum of Art Thursday, September 26, 2013.

Over the last few weeks, pieces of art that drew visitors from around the world to Pittsburgh have been making their way home — some going only as far as in-house storage, others to places oceans away.

In the wake of the 2013 Carnegie International, which closed in March, wooden partitions block off parts of the Carnegie Museum of Art that housed the global survey of contemporary art for six months.

Today, museum staff is already looking ahead to the next International, slated for 2018.

Lynn Zelevansky says while she's not sure of the specific qualities she'll be looking for in the next curator (or curators), there are a few prerequisites.

“From a technical standpoint, anyone who takes this on has to be senior enough to handle an exhibition of this scale in terms of planning and execution,” she says. “That takes a bit of experience.

“Also, the art world has a number of smart and interesting curators who regularly do these kinds of survey shows. Often, they're exhibitions made largely for the art world with little consideration for the site itself. I want someone who can be interested by this city and this museum, with their unique cultures and histories. I believe that's the only way to make a deeply resonant exhibition.”

The team for the most recent International included Daniel Baumann, Dan Byers and Tina Kukielski, who worked for years to create an exhibition representative of the most challenging and engaging artwork in the world. The International has not had repeat curators since its early days.

Plans for the next one will start to form in earnest after about a year, says Jonathan Gaugler, museum spokesman.

The spaces inhabited by the International will soon house new shows. “Small Prints, Big Artists: Masterpieces From the Renaissance to Baroque” will open in the Heinz Galleries on May 31. “Faked, Forgotten, Found: Five Renaissance Paintings Investigated” opens June 28.

Kukielski is part of the team working on the Hillman Photography Initiative, examining the state of photography today, when technological innovations make it easier to take photographs and share them instantaneously.

Byers will continue in his role as the Richard Armstrong Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Baumann remains director of the Adolf Wolfli Foundation in Bern, Switzerland, and is an independent curator.

Andrew Carnegie initiated the International in 1896. The event, held every four or five years, has resulted in an impressive expansion of the museum's permanent collection.

In December, the museum made its first round of acquisitions, including works by Phyllida Barlow, Sadie Benning, Vincent Fecteau, Wade Guyton, Rokni Haerizadeh, Amar Kanwar, Dinh Q. Lê, Tobias Madison, Zanele Muholi, Paulina Olowska, Pedro Reyes, Mladen Stilinovi, Zoe Strauss, Henry Taylor and Erika Verzutti.

A second round of acquisitions in February included works by Ei Arakawa, Nicole Eisenman, Wade Guyton, Mark Leckey, Zanele Muholi, Paulina Olowska, Gabriel Sierra, Frances Stark, Joel Sternfeld and Zoe Strauss.

During the course of the exhibition, 156,000 visitors came to the museum from 53 countries and every state, Gaugler says. Media from around the world covered the event extensively, many offering glowing reviews.

“The level of international coverage shows how far a show rooted in Pittsburgh can reach,” Gaugler says.

Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948 or rweaver@tribweb.com.

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