By Pittsburgh The Tribune-Review
Thursday, March 31, 2011
The Carnegie Museum of Art obviously has forgotten who bakes its biscotti and caffes its cappuccino, so to speak. For the shot-and-beer crowd, that means Pittsburgh's supposedly pre-eminent gallery for all things art has forgotten who butters its bread.
Not to mention its own history.
Witness the advertising campaign for a current exhibit, "Paul Thek: Diver, A Retrospective." The show features the avant-garde work (sane people would call it "rank") of the late American painter, sculptor and, ultimately, installation artist who died in 1988.
One endearing display (ahem) at the museum's Heinz Galleries is "Meat Piece with Warhol Brillo Box" -- a massive facsimile slab of human flesh (hair follicles and hair included) with a protruding segment of medical tubing. Visit before lunch.
But what's even more tasteless is that for one of the billboards used to promote the retrospective, the Carnegie chose a Thek work that features the phrase "Afflict the Comfortable, Comfort the Afflicted" in yellow paint surrounded by a sea of purple.
The saying is a variation of one coined by late 19th- and early 20th-century journalist/humorist Finley Peter Dunne, actually part of a much larger cautioning against some newspapers' proclivity to misuse their power. Since that era, the phrase has been roundly misemployed -- interpreted literally -- by liberal media types and their oftentimes socialist acolytes.
Thus, the Carnegie's use of Mr. Thek's "interpretation" to promote this show is damnable on three fronts. Not only does it promote revisionist history and arrogantly backhand the very benefactors who make the Carnegie Museum of Art possible today, it pillories its very first benefactor and founder, Pittsburgh industrialist Andrew Carnegie.
Museum management should feign no surprise if Mr. Carnegie's philanthropic heirs slap back.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.