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Indepth Arts News:

"Treasure Hunt: A Decade of Collecting Works on Paper"
2001-12-15 until 2002-06-02
Carnegie Museum of Art
Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Treasure Hunt: A Decade of Collecting Works on Paper presents a cross-section of works that span the last five centuries, in a broad range of collection areas. Included are European and American drawings and prints, with works by Rembrandt, Gauguin, Picasso, Whistler, Klimt, and other well-known artists, and photographers, such as Pittsburghers Charles Teenie Harris and Clyde Hare. The 60 works in the show represent only a small fraction of more than 1600 works on paper acquired by the museum's Department of Fine Arts during the past ten years.

According to Carnegie Museum of Art's Associate Curator of Fine Arts Linda Batis, Treasure Hunt not only showcases important acquisitions, but also reveals the extent of the museum's collection of works on paper. We collect to overcome weaknesses and enhance strengths in our permanent collection. This exhibition should give visitors a good feel for what we have acquired to accomplish those goals, but it also shows the range of our collection. Furthermore, Treasure Hunt is a tribute to our community. Several of the works in the show were gifts, and many were acquired with funds donated by generous patrons.

In some cases, the works were acquired to provide examples of a particular artistic style or period. For example, the lithographs Ansager (Radio Announcer) and Dlia Golosa (For the Voice), both completed in 1923 by El Lissitzky, a proponent of the Russian Avant-Garde, represent an important movement that that had a limited presence in the museum's permanent collection. Other Russian Avant-Garde works in the show include Olga Rozanova's Airplanes over the City (1916), a unique woodcut with cut-and-pasted paper elements.

The exhibition also features superb examples of technique. Such works include Pierre Bonnard's The Little Laundress (1896), one of the landmarks of 19th-century color lithography; William Pether's Philosopher Giving a Lecture on an Orrery (1768), a dramatic mezzotint with finely executed areas of light and shadow; and Israhel van Meckenem's painstakingly wrought portrait engraving Saint Peter and Saint Andrew (ca. 1480), which compellingly reveals the apostles' sanctity without diminishing their humanity or individuality.

Some works are by artists at pivotal stages of their careers, such as Head of a Bearded Man (1902) by Pablo Picasso, completed when the artist was in his early twenties. This realistic charcoal drawing, given to the museum by Leon and Jane Arkus, was once in the private collection of Leo and Gertrude Stein. Contrasting with this very early Picasso, is an engraving from the artist's cubist period, L'Homme la Guitarre (1915).

In particular, the photographs in Treasure Hunt emphasize the museum's focus on collecting images by regional photographers, such as The Last Steam Train (1951) by Clyde Hare, and Four Women on Swinging Porch Seat (1945) by Charles Teenie Harris. Some of the photographs, like Views in Homestead Steel Works (ca. 1893) by Benjamin Lomax Horsley Dabbs, are iconic Pittsburgh images.

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