Magazine article Artforum International

All-Star Casts

Magazine article Artforum International

All-Star Casts

Article excerpt

History recalls Andrew Carnegie as a generous philanthropist trapped by provincial tastes. The intention behind his Carnegie Museum of Art, founded in Pittsburgh in 1895, was to collect "the old masters of tomorrow"; the Carnegie international began a year later as the primary vehicle for doing so. Through most of its history the show remained grossly conservative - a Modern artist was not honored until Matisse took first prize in 1927. Indeed, it wasn't until the '80s that the International be came a consistently important venue for contemporary art, rivaling, by virtue of its international scope, even the Whitney Biennial. This year the honor of selecting the international goes to Richard Armstrong, the Carnegie's curator of contemporary art. As the former Whitney cuarator explains, the opportunity to expand his curatorial horizons beyond national borders was a welcome one.

When I spoke with Armstrong in anticipation of this month's opening, I asked about his selection process, particularly with regard to artists outside the U.S., and about his emphasis on work that reinforces American and European models. Armstrong also discussed his decision to mount a smaller show and to concentrate on established as opposed to emerging artists. Two figures who have surprisingly never before made it into an International - Richard Tuttle and the late Donald Judd - emerge as pivotal players in Armstrong's survey.

ALLAN SCHWARTZMAN: What guiding principles did you use in putting this show together?

RICHARD ARMSTRONG: I had a prejudice against recapitulating what had been done in 1991. That meant leaving out a number of wonderful artists and certain viewpoints, primarily installation-oriented work. More specifically, I wanted to represent sculpture as wholly as possible. I could have put together a show consisting exclusively of white plaster casts - it's a very strong vernacular at this moment. One sculptor whose work is especially compelling is Donald Judd, who died while I was considering people for the show. He'd never been incorporated into an International, and in my mind he is probably today's most influential sculptor (along with Carl Andre and Richard Serra). We have a space that is a re-creation of the interior of an ancient temple on the Parthenon - what better place to present Judd? Further, I also knew early on that Rachel Whiteread deserved an in-depth presentation. I was also impressed with Miroslaw Balka; and Doris Salcedo was an early favorite.

AS: All these artists in different ways come out of a lineage traceable to Judd.

RA: I'm not sure you can make abstract sculpture today without being strongly cognizant of what he did.

AS: How did you approach painting?

RA: I looked for great strength and perhaps for young artists who might show different possibilities. I had seen Georg Baselitz's fantastically successful show at the Louisiana Museum in Denmark two summers back, and I was won over by his new work. Then other people offered themselves up, such as Beatriz Milhazes and Guillermo Kuitca; in Israel. this powerful older artist, Moshe Kupferman. whose abstract work I came to admire; and another New York artist. Louise Fishman, whose work is entirely unrelated to his.

AS: You've included artists from 16 countries. How did you organize your search?

RA: My pattern was to travel every other month, mostly to a place I'd never been. I would pound on doors until I had a list of people to visit and I'd settle on a Sherpa. I'd see 40 or 50 studios over the next five days, then get on a plane and fly off.

AS: Explain how you choose a single artist from an entire culture - in the case of Israel, Moshe Kupferman.

RA: I saw numerous studios during my visit there, and the breadth and depth of the culture was impressive, but Kupferman embodied the entire history of that young country. His paintings were so powerful and expressive and so embodied the landscape - both mental and physical - that I couldn't ignore them. …

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