10 Pittsburgh Artworks You Must See in 2024

Eric Crosby, Henry J. Heinz II Director, Carnegie Museum of Art and Vice President, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, lists 10 artworks in Pittsburgh that we all need to see in 2024. 

Must-See Pittsburgh Artworks in 2024

Louise Bourgeois, Fountain and Benches, 1996–1999 

Agnes R. Katz Plaza, Downtown  

Tucked away in the Pittsburgh Cultural District on the corner of Seventh Street and Penn Avenue is a most strange and wonderful creation by the late Paris-born sculptor Louise Bourgeois. Towering over passers-by with its surreal form, her 25-foot-high bronze fountain cascades water down its mysterious spiraled shape, while eyeball-shaped granite benches invite us to sit and take in the view. 

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Comtesse d’Haussonville, 1845 

Vermeer, Monet, Rembrandt: Forging the Frick Collections in Pittsburgh & New York on view at The Frick Pittsburgh, Point Breeze 

I know everyone is excited to glimpse the Vermeers, Monets, and Rembrandts this spring at The Frick Pittsburgh, but I for one will beeline it to the Ingres. We are lucky to see such masterworks from The Frick Collection in New York right here in our city. If you are not familiar with Ingres, here is your opportunity to dive deep into this French Neoclassical painter. All you need is one painting and I cannot think of a more enigmatic and virtuosic one than this.  

A white outside building in Pittsburgh is designed in an artwork in bold yellow and purple colors with a young Black child's face to the right of different phrases.

James “Yaya” Hough, A Gift to the Hill District, 2022, commissioned for the 58th Carnegie International (Photo by Sean Eaton)

James “Yaya” Hough, A Gift to the Hill District, 2022 

2317 Centre Ave, Hill District  

Commissioned by Carnegie Museum of Art for the 58th Carnegie International, James “Yaya” Hough’s mural—a public work of art in the truest sense of the word—was created with the support of Pittsburgh-based organizations BOOM Concepts and Nafasi on Centre. Through community workshops, participants discussed the role of public art in their neighborhoods, the imagery they wanted to bring to the project, and the challenges and dreams that shape their vision of the future. 

Greer Lankton, It’s All About ME, Not You, 1996 

The Mattress Factory, North Side

Greer Lankton was a key figure in New York’s East Village art scene of the 1980s. She was best known for her life-size doll sculptures that challenged stereotypes about gender, sexuality, and the body. Her final and largest work—before her death in 1996—was commissioned as an autobiographical installation at the Mattress Factory. A deeply moving full replica of her apartment with framed photographs, drawings, tchotchkes, sculptures, and furnishings is accompanied by an archive of the artist’s personal ephemera. 

Andy Warhol, Elvis 11 Times [Studio Type], 1963 

The Andy Warhol Museum, North Side  

For a 1963 solo exhibition in Los Angeles, Pittsburgh-born Pop artist Andy Warhol created his first painting of Elvis. In the process, one turned into many, and the artist printed 23 Elvis portraits on one long silver canvas. The single sheet was later divided into separate works, but this one—the longest at 36 feet—remained at the artist’s New York studio until his death in 1987. Today, it is surely the crown jewel of the Andy Warhol Museum’s collection. 

El Anatsui, Palettes of Ambition, 2022 

Carnegie Museum of Art, Oakland 

Renowned for his innovative use of post-consumer materials, Ghanaian artist El Anatsui transforms everyday materials into larger-than-life sculptural tapestries. These artworks complete with colorful patterns and undulations that envelop the viewer. Acquired for the Carnegie Museum of Art’s collection in 2023, this remarkable work of art is, I believe, the single most important acquisition made by the museum in the last 50 years. (Bonus for me: I feel very fortunate to appreciate it every day at work!) 

An artwork textured and in various colors hangs on the wall at Carnegie Art Museum in Pittsburgh

El Anatsui, Palettes of Ambition, Carnegie Museum of Art, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Karl Salatka. 

Tony Smith, Light Up!, 1971 

Forbes Quadrangle at the University of Pittsburgh, Oakland  

Every day, University of Pittsburgh students walk through Forbes Quadrangle and admire a bright yellow geometric sculpture. Standing over 20 feet high and weighing in at 11 tons, Light Up! is the creation of Tony Smith, one of the earliest innovators of 1960s Minimalism. He designed his modular sculptures on a very small scale by joining handmade tetra- and octahedrons into various configurations before instructing engineers to fabricate gargantuan versions.  

Jon Rubin, The National Museum, 2023 

604 Wood Street, Downtown  

In 2023, Pittsburgh-based artist and educator Jon Rubin founded The National Museum, which exists in name only. It has no building or visitors; storefront signage, a website, and printed posters are the only evidence of its existence. Rubin invites an artist to rename the imagined museum and a writer to reflect on the implications. The result will be a slowly accumulating reflection on contemporary institutions, power, and collective identity. 

Romare Bearden, Pittsburgh Recollections, 1984 

Gateway Center T Station, Downtown  

Iconic American artist Romare Bearden spent his childhood years in Pittsburgh. It left a lasting impression on his vivid and influential collage work. At the time of the Great Migration, his grandparents operated a boardinghouse for African American steelworkers. Young Bearden’s impressions of the people and landscape of this region became an enduring subject of his work. You can see it reflected beautifully in this stunning, subterranean mural at the Gateway Center T Station that most Pittsburghers rarely get to see. 

Dioramas on view in the Hall of North American Wildlife 

Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Oakland 

It may come as a surprise, but one of the most striking galleries of art in Pittsburgh can be found in the city’s natural history museum. The Hall of North American Wildlife at Carnegie Museum of Natural History features 23 spectacular historic dioramas—each house carefully preserved animal specimens in elaborately constructed, hyper-realistic tableaux depicting the natural world. 

Story by Eric Crosby, Henry J. Heinz II Director, Carnegie Museum of Art and Vice President, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh

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