Carnegie International

Article excerpt

CARNEGIE MUSEUM OF ART

Compared, say, with the Whitney Museum in New York, the Carnegie offers what to a new curator must seem a paradisiacal expanse. On the ground floor, a long, wide entrance corridor leads toward the Hall of Sculpture. Upstairs is a series of enormously high rooms off of which stretches a balcony that looks down on the sculpture hall and across from which is an even longer sequence of front galleries illuminated by natural light.

Unfortunately, this year's International, curated by Richard Armstrong, too often makes ineffective use of the museum's space. In the entrance corridor, the Joan Mitchells hang too close to the Per Kirkeby sculptures, so that in the afternoon her paintings are only properly visible if you stand with your back pressed against the windows. The Donald Judds, recently shown so effectively at Pace Wildenstein, seem lost in the sculpture hall. Similary, the awkward division of one enormous upstairs room to display Miroslaw Balka's sculptures behind Marlene Dumas' works on paper wastes an expanse which, in the last International, was magnificently employed by Richard Serra. Most inexplicably, why stick Guillermo Kuitca's paintings of architectural scenes in the middle of a room given over to Richard Artschwager's crates?

To be fair, sometimes the installations do work. Robert Gober's Untitled (Man in Drain), 1993-94, is humorously and effectively placed on the far side of a room on the second floor, so that you look down into the bowels of the museum. And Rachel Whiteread's Untitled (One Hundred Spaces), 1995, intelligently and effectively colonizes the room in which it is displayed. The Cindy Shermans hang above the sculpture court to stunning and witty effect, juxtaposing her elusive art-historical references to the more literal ones of the casts of antique sculptures below.

In reviewing a large survey show, it seems pointless to merely oppose one's own taste to that of the curator, especially when he, with the aid of a committee, mixes the famous, the mid-career, and the unknown artist. The paintings by Chuck Close, Agnes Martin, and Mitchell are, not unexpectedly, wonderful; and, as always, Richard Tuttle is extremely ingenious, as is Artschwager, who with 37 works on display is perhaps too much in evidence. In such a setting, I lose all confidence in my ability to evaluate artists previously unknown to me. …