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The Sculpture Court provides open-air space for encountering large-scale sculptures, new commissions, architecture, and landscape. Read on to learn about the artworks you can encounter in the Sculpture Court, and check out our events calendar to find out about seasonal performances.
How do you see yourself, your body, your views, ideas, and experiences as you move within this museum? I want, I demand, I need, I insist. Andrea Geyer’s Manifest actively acknowledges and embraces the idea that a museum is made of many people: from visitors and staff to artists, we make and remake the museum every single day. The eight banners with text facing inside and outside of the museum windows cast our voices beyond constructions of past and present and the impermeability of institutions while calling each of our imaginations into a shared space.
For Carnegie Museum of Art, Geyer invites you to contemplate your own needs and desires in relation to the museum today. The artist has created an interactive broadside to create your own list of wants, needs, visions, and demands.
Manifest stems from Geyer’s research on San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s (SFMOMA) founding director Grace McCann Morley and her belief in museums as integral to civil society and civic life. Morley led this museum from 1935 to 1958, establishing gallery tours, art history courses, a public art library, an art rental gallery, the first film program at an American museum, and the TV show “Art in Your Life.” An advocate for modern art and cultural democracy. Under Morley’s direction, the museum was open until 10 p.m. As a result of these efforts, it garnered a following that was expansive and diverse in age, race, economic, and cultural backgrounds. Morley wrote in 1950, “Art is an inseparable and essential part of human life.”
Geyer took Morley’s mission to show the importance of art in every aspect of life and scripted a list of wants, needs, and demands put toward museums as an invitation to reimagine what one expects and hopes for when engaging such institutions today. Additionally, the statements in Manifest draw from writings and lectures by Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, and Michel Foucault, as well as from those by more recent thinkers such as Wendy Brown, Jack Halberstam, Stefano Harney, and Fred Moten. Geyer also included references in response to the 2016 presidential election (which took place while Geyer was writing the original script) that called for museums to be sites of resistance and sanctuary.
This steel sculpture by Kenneth Snelson is one of several works created in 1977 for Sculpturescape, located in Mellon Square Park in downtown Pittsburgh, a citywide arts project that paired internationally known artists with local industrial firms to create large-scale public sculpture throughout the city. Comprising polished steel tubes and aircraft cables, Forest Devil is a characteristic example of Snelson’s interest in using simple linear forms to create complex, dynamic structures.
The sculpture operates on a basic pull-push principle. The tubes act as rigid components pushing outward, while the cables draw the structure inward. This precise combination of opposing forces establishes an equilibrium that holds the form together, a physical state that Snelson called “tensegrity,” a contraction of the words, “tension” and “integrity.” The overlapping linear forms and polished reflective surfaces create the illusion of a turbulent, moving structure, perhaps suggesting a visual metaphor for the work’s title. Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corporation donated the aircraft cables, and the sculpture was fabricated locally by Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Company and Colonial Machine Company. Snelson was among four artists commissioned for Sculpturescape, the others were Clement Meadmore, Jack Youngerman, and John Henry. Sculpturescape was a project of the Three Rivers Arts Festival, a subsidiary of the Women’s Committee of Carnegie Museum of Art.
The Encyclopaedia of Invisibility
Tavares Strachan, whose practice is located at the intersection of science, art, and the environment, creates ambitious works that investigate the nature of invisibility and the conditions that frame and legitimize certain histories while obscuring and erasing others. Strachan also aims to build and connect communities through his work by making networks of power more visible, prompting viewers to reconsider their social roles at the local and global levels. The Encyclopaedia of Invisibility was commissioned for the Carnegie International, 57th Edition, 2018, and originally included 54 neon signs.
The names on the neon signs were selected from the entries in a 2,400-page book, also titled The Encyclopaedia of Invisibility (2018). The eleven remaining names on the building’s façade include: Wilson, Klint, Selassie, Nancy, Moondog, Malcolm, Smalls, Rosalind, Wallace, Fernald, and Lepaute. This installation is a major achievement for the artist and was a highlight of the International. It would be the first work by Strachan to enter the collection. “I intend to use these neon names to light up the Pittsburgh sky, crossing barriers such as time, space, race, and gender.” After his first site visit, Tavares Strachan said that what impressed him most about the museum was the ribbon of names of great men etched into the stone of the old building. He proposed illuminating these worthies with another list. Written in script, buzzing in neon, are the surnames of people whose historical invisibility is now brought to light. Placed between existing names, the neon scripts are here not to erase but to electrify your relationship to the museum.