Carnegie Museum of Art Presents Hand Made: Contemporary Craft in Ceramic, Glass, and Wood in the Newly Renovated Balcony Gallery, opening April 8, 2011
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania… Carnegie Museum of Art announces the opening of the Balcony Gallery. Formerly known as the Treasure Room, this newly renovated exhibition space located off of the Hall of Sculpture balcony will showcase the museum’s rich and diverse collection of decorative arts objects, with an emphasis on Modernist and contemporary design and craft.
The Balcony Gallery opens with the inaugural exhibition Hand Made: Contemporary Craft in Ceramic, Glass, and Wood, focusing on the materials, forms, and techniques used in the 20th and 21st centuries to create stunning handmade objects inspired by functional traditions. Many of the works on display reflect the strength of the museum’s permanent collection of American craft. Also debuting in the Balcony Gallery (and simultaneously in nearby galleries) are more than 30 recent acquisitions in contemporary craft and nearly two dozen major promised gifts from the collection of Deena and Jerome Kaplan.
“The Balcony Gallery beautifully complements the Ailsa Mellon Bruce Galleries and extends our presentation of decorative arts, design, and craft.” said Lynn Zelevansky, The Henry J. Heinz II Director of Carnegie Museum of Art. “I am delighted that the museum has another beautifully designed exhibition space worthy of such a collection.”
The renovated gallery is 350 square feet (about the same footprint as the former Treasure Room), but has been reconfigured with large floor-to-ceiling built-in wall cases with enhanced lighting, climate control, and adjustable shelving, allowing many more objects to be displayed. To engage a broader audience and provide opportunities for in-depth learning, the renovation also includes an interactive multimedia component in the gallery.
The inaugural exhibition features 65 objects from the three most significant studio craft movements of the last 70 years: ceramics, glass, and wood, including recent acquisitions and loans from private collections. “This exhibition will examine the roles of craft and design in the 20th and 21st centuries and reveal the unique balance of tradition and innovation that enables these objects to transcend the functional roots of craft media,” said Rachel Delphia, assistant curator of decorative arts and design. “These artists are pushing the boundaries of their media to create distinctive and compelling objects by hand while also employing many age-old techniques.”
Hand Made explores the inherent aesthetic possibilities of ceramics, glass, and wood—such as the plasticity and sensuality of clay, the light-altering ability of glass, and the organic textures of wood. The exhibition also examines how artists have moved beyond functional artistry through innovative form and manipulation of these materials.
The celebration of craft extends beyond the Balcony Gallery to the adjacent Hall of Sculpture Balcony, the Ailsa Mellon Bruce Galleries, and the Museum of Art lobby under the Scaife Gallery stairs where another two dozen works of contemporary craft and studio furniture are on view.
New highlights include:
The playful Grandmother with Baseball Player, 1990–1994, by celebrated American ceramist Viola Frey (1993–2004), roughly modeled and punctuated with the thick, coloring-book outlines and bright patches of glaze for which Frey is admired.
Double rocking chair, 1996, by legendary American furniture maker Sam Maloof (1916–2009), made of shimmering fiddleback maple with black ebony highlights, exemplifying Maloof’s use of beautiful hardwoods; his preference for simple, ergonomic design; and his impeccable shaping and joinery technique.
The whimsical Monkey Settee, 1994, by American artist Judy Kensley McKie (b. 1944), noted for her ability to integrate animated sculptural imagery of flora and fauna inspired from African, Indonesian, Native American, and other indigenous cultures, with functional furniture forms.
A delicate, translucent bowl with relief tear‑drop decoration, 2008, by British glass artist Margaret Alston (b. 1956), illustrating her reinterpretation of the ancient technique of pâte de verre, in which pulverized glass is fused by heat to form an object.
Organically shaped Black Baskets, 2003, by German-American wood turner Christian Burchard (b. 1955), one of his most iconic works, in which he lathe-turns vessels while the wood is still “green” (retaining the moisture of the living tree), resulting in beautiful, uneven shrinkage as the objects dry.
An important spalted sugar maple vase, 1978, by American wood turner Melvin Lindquist (1911–2000), embellished with thin black lines caused by a tree fungus and shaped by Lindquist with special tools that preserved the tenuous structural integrity of the diseased wood.
A group of meditative plates and Closed Forms, c. 1990s, by leading American ceramist Toshiko Takaezu (1922–2011), featuring her signature ovoid shape with a tiny, puckered opening at the top and her expressive and painterly glazes.
Glimmer in Crosscurrents, 2002, a masterwork of form and technique by American wood turner William Hunter (b. 1947), who is renowned for his exotic hardwood vessels with pierced and spiraling designs ingeniously cut with a mounted disc sander.
Hare Teapot, 1989, a major work by American ceramist Kenneth Ferguson (1928–2004), a key figure who led the way in challenging prevailing notions about the role of clay in the arts by exaggerating scale and transforming his pots into sculptural objects.
The striking Blue Lustre Vessel, 1985, by American potter Beatrice Wood (1893–1998), featuring a rich, blue-green luster glaze and relief-molded dancers that exemplify Wood’s spirited approach to clay.
The witty Architect’s Valet, 1991, by American furniture maker Alphonse Mattia (b. 1947), part of a series of valet chairs begun in 1983 and based on Hans Wegner’s famous 1950s design.
An impressive flame-worked Pyrex glass chair, Sit…, 2004, by American glass artist Brent Kee Young (b. 1946), part of the artist’s Matrix series, which challenges expectations of both functional forms and the use of glass as a material.
Saturn Star Bowl, 2005, by German wood turner Hans Weissflog (b. 1954), which showcases his mastery of extreme technical and geometric precision on the lathe through an array of perfectly formed concentric rings.
Lunch & Learn: Inside Views
Thursday, May 12, 10:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
Limited to 25 people; $20 members/$22 nonmembers. Call 412.622.3288 to register.
Join Rachel Delphia, assistant curator of decorative arts and design, for an introduction to Hand Made: Contemporary Craft in Ceramic, Glass, and Wood, the first exhibition in the newly renovated Balcony Gallery. Discover innovative works from the three most significant studio craft movements of the last 70 years.
Celebrate the Opening of the New Balcony Gallery!
Ceramics: Sunday, June 12, 2–3 p.m.
Glass: Sunday, July 10, 2–3 p.m.
Wood: Sunday, August 14, 2–3 p.m.
Two-week advance reservation is required. Call 412.622.3314.
In this three-part series, each month explores a different component of the exhibition Hand Made: Contemporary Craft in Ceramic, Glass, and Wood. The tour also takes you to the Ailsa Mellon Bruce and Scaife Galleries for a look at objects of similar materials. Come for one tour, or all three!
Major support for the renovation and reinstallation of the Balcony Gallery was provided by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Edward Rendell, Governor, as well as the Henry Luce Foundation, The Fellows of Carnegie Museum of Art, and the Henry L. Hillman Fund. Support also was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Windgate Charitable Foundation, and The Decorative Arts and Design Forum of Carnegie Museum of Art.
Carnegie Museum of Art
Located at 4400 Forbes Avenue in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art was founded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1895. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, it is nationally and internationally recognized for its distinguished collection of American and European works from the 16th century to the present. The Heinz Architectural Center, part of Carnegie Museum of Art, is dedicated to enhancing understanding of the physical environment through its exhibitions, collections, and public programs. For more information about Carnegie Museum of Art, call 412.622.3131 or visit our web site at www.cmoa.org.