A History of the Carnegie International
18961919 | 19201949 | 19501959 | 19601979 | 19802000
When Pittsburgh industrialist Andrew Carnegie founded Carnegie Institute in 1895,
one of his bold ambitions was to create a museum of modern art as part of the institute.
The exhibition series he established in the following year, would become the linchpin
of that scheme. Through the exhibition, Carnegie sought to educate audiences, attract
the art world to Pittsburgh, and above all, to build a collection through the purchase
of the "old masters of tomorrow."
With the first exhibition came the acquisition of Winslow Homer's The Wreck (1896) and
James A. McNeill Whistler's Arrangement in Black: Portrait of Senor Pablo de Sarasate
(1884), the first Whistler painting to be acquired by an American museum. More than a
century later, in excess of 300 works have entered Carnegie Museum of Art's permanent
collection through the Internationals, including works by Georg Baselitz, Mary Cassatt,
Eduardo Chillida, Willem de Kooning, James Ensor, Childe Hassam, Edward Hopper, Anselm
Kiefer, Camille Pissarro, George Rouault, John Singer Sargent, and Richard Serra.
While the mission of the International has remained constant over the years, it has had
many incarnations. In 1896, the show was established as a yearly survey and presented as
the Annual Exhibition. The presence of prominent figures, such as Alfred H. Barr, Jr.,
Pierre Bonnard, Thomas Eakins, Robert Henri, and Winslow Homer, on its juries of award
was testament to the scope of Carnegie Institute's ambitions. However, relatively few
avant-garde works appeared in these exhibitions. It was not until Henri Matisse's work
won first prize in 1927 that a modern artist was truly recognized.
By the 1950s, the Carnegie International emerged an influential exhibition of the avant
garde, documenting the rise of significant developments such as Abstract Expressionism.
During these years, jurors included Marcel Duchamp, Vincent Price, Ben Shahn, and James
Thrall Soby. Willem de Kooning's Woman VI (1953) and Franz Kline's Siegfried (1958),
along with many works by leading European artists, were purchased for the museum from
that decade's Internationals.
In 1950 the exhibition, renamed the Pittsburgh International, became biennial, and in 1955,
triennial. During the 1970s the name was changed to the International Series, and broke
with tradition to present one- and two-person exhibitions. In 1977, the exhibition
featured the work of Pierre Alechinsky and in 1979 that of Eduardo Chillida and Willem
The show returned to the original 1896 anthology format in 1982, and the name Carnegie
International was adopted. The exhibition was reestablished as the preeminent
international survey of contemporary art in America with the acclaimed 1985, 1988,
and 1991 exhibitions. The 1995 Carnegie International was planned to coincide with
the centennial of Carnegie Institute.
The Carnegie Prize was reinstituted in 1985 and awarded to Anselm Kiefer for Midgard
(19801985) and to Richard Serra for Carnegie (1985). In 1988, Rebecca Horn was the
recipient for The Hydra Forest (1988), and in 1991, On Kawara won for his well-known