A History of the Carnegie International
18961919 | 19201949 | 19501959 | 19601979 | 19802000
Ironically, it was a fellow Pittsburgher named Andy Warhol, who was part of the new ideals
in art. Pop Art made its debut in the 1964 Carnegie Internationalat a time when a growing
national cynicism characterized mainstream thinking. The troubled Vietnam era, Cold War
fears, and national debate over a broad range of social issues, both in America and
abroad, turned artists into activists, and museum curators and directors into moral
policemen a difficult and unwelcome responsibility that was increasingly necessary to
appease the general public as well as those who contributed to the arts.
The trustees of Carnegie Institute could hardly be indifferent to the national plight, yet
their role was essentially conservative: they were stewards of an historical system that
celebrated artistic excellence and could be traced to origins in the Beaux-Arts education
of the late 19th century. By 1972, however, it was increasingly apparent that many artists
were reevaluating art from the ground up, creating a style that became known as
postminimalism. This new art encompassed new ways of thinking about art and objects that
were beyond anything seen before. It included conceptual art, Earth art, installation art,
body art, performance art, and other forms of art disengaged from the object.
The postminimalists rejected the 19th-century aesthetic belief system:
the hierarchy of merit, fidelity to nature, even the notion of value itself.
Competition (and the awarding of prizes) was no longer an effective means
of conducting the unbiased exploration of perceptual representation. Those
responsible for the Carnegie International thus found themselves
pinned between colliding value systems. It was becoming more and more
difficult to maintain the exhibition's contemporary format, and even the
large Trusts that funded the exhibit were questioning the merits of such
From three directors during the Museum's first 60 years, the Carnegie experienced
a quick succession of directors, each trying to adapt and reshape the exhibition to
the turbulent times.
It was in the 1970s that the International deviated from its original format and spirit.
Directors Gustave von Groschwitz (19611967) and Leon A. Arkus (19701979) at first
continued the survey format. But Arkus presented one- and two-artist exhibitions in 1977
and 1979 and changed the name to the Pittsburgh International Series. These more focused
exhibitions constituted a change he felt would contribute significantly to a growing body
of scholarship on contemporary masters. His decision reflected the trend in art
scholarship that had moved toward a closer focus on the works and impact of individual