5 Must-See Artworks in Pittsburgh

Patrick Moore, director of The Andy Warhol Museum, lists five artworks held in Pittsburgh-area museums that we all need to see in 2023.

Nicole Eisenman, Prince of Swords, 2013

Carnegie Museum of Art, 4400 Forbes Avenue
Eisenman’s work combines schoolboy humor with a deeply personal depiction of the queer communities to which she belongs. Her sculptural practice, rendered in lumpy white plaster, updates classical statuary with determined, everyday figures. Prince of Swords at first disappears into the line of classical figures lining the mezzanine of the museum’s Hall of Sculpture. It is only on closer inspection that the form reveals itself as the prototypical contemporary figure, slumped over and gazing at a cell phone.

Bruce Conner, Crossroads, 1976

Carnegie Museum of Art, 4400 Forbes Avenue
Conner’s hypnotic loops of found film depict the slow-motion horror and beauty of atomic weapons being detonated over the Pacific. The installation at the Carnegie is particularly beautiful as it can be glimpsed through a window from the permanent collection galleries. Before entering the gallery dedicated to the film, one experiences its terror even while being surrounded by serenity in the larger painting galleries.

Andy Warhol, Skulls, 1976

The Andy Warhol Museum, 117 Sandusky Street
The Andy Warhol Museum celebrates every aspect of Warhol’s wildly prolific career, showing both the fascination with fame and glamour alongside a darker side that relates to the fragility of life as informed by these monumental memento mori, or reminders of death. Warhol’s Skulls are indeed a reminder that we live in this world for only a moment. However, they are also relentlessly cool and rebellious, serving as the backdrop for a recent Calvin Klein underwear campaign and countless selfies taken by museum visitors.

acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen, artworks in pittsburgh
Andy Warhol, Skull, 1976, © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

 

Keith Haring, Untitled, 1981

Carnegie Museum of Art, 4400 Forbes Avenue
This massive work on tarpaulin echoes the streets and subways where Haring first made his reputation as a graffiti artist who would pass into the larger popular culture through his relentlessly cheerful figures that were perfectly suited to hats and t-shirts. However, being at the center of the New York art world during the 1980s, Haring’s work is inevitably shot through with reminders of the AIDS crisis. As an active participant in groups such as ACT UP, Haring utilized his art to urge others to “take direct collective action to end the AIDS crisis.”

Gavin Benjamin, Cynsere, Jeannette, PA, From the Series Museum Picture, 2021

The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, 221 N. Main Street, Greensburg
Benjamin set out to demonstrate that communities of color are intertwined into the daily life of a seemingly white and conservative area. The artist not only documented these Westmoreland residents but invited them into the dark paneled formality of the museum to be photographed.

Story by Patrick Moore

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