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Ordinary Madness Mines the Carnegie Museum of Art's Rich Holdings of Contemporary Art
David Hockney (British, b. 1937), Divine, 1979, acrylic on canvas. H: 60 in. x W: 59 7/8 in. Purchase: gift of Richard M. Scaife, 82.67
PITTSBURGH, PA.- Carnegie Museum of Art presents Ordinary Madness, an exhibition that mines the museum’s rich holdings of contemporary art to suggest an unsettling observation: that the ordinary is in fact laced with the contradictory, uncanny, and surreal.

On view are a wide array of works that engage the everyday from various vantage points, illuminating the bewildering experiences we subconsciously accept as part of our daily lives. At the heart of the exhibition are the strengths, quirks, and unique history that comprise the museum’s collection of contemporary art.

“Ordinary Madness came together from my desire to present a series of comparisons across media and art historical categories that would articulate how artists engage with everyday experience, and the way art can be used as a powerful tool to navigate a complex and disconcerting world,” said Dan Byers, curator of Ordinary Madness and associate curator of contemporary art at Carnegie Museum of Art.

Ordinary Madness revisits major works acquired from past Carnegie International exhibitions, and presents the opportunity to show a wide range of permanent collection works alongside recent acquisitions, creating juxtaposition and dialogue that otherwise might not be apparent. The exhibition takes place in the Heinz and Forum Galleries and includes a 16 mm film series in October and November in CMA Theater.

Ordinary Madness presents art from the museum’s contemporary art collection thematically as a way to explore connections and comparisons between different works. But overall, the exhibition examines how life is filled with the bizarre and unusual and how art reflects those observations.

Ordinary Madness begins as visitors climb the museum’s stairs to the Heinz Galleries and encounter a television on the floor outside the galleries playing Vito Acconci’s 1973 video Theme Song. The artist, in the video, is lying on the floor and smoking cigarettes while songs by The Doors, Bob Dylan, and Van Morrison play in the background. Acconci looks directly into the camera and addresses the viewer with a coaxing and unsettling monologue saying, “look at me with your eyes and I’ll look at you,” and “there’s got to be somebody out there watching me, somebody who wants to come in close to me.”

Beyond, positioned just within the Heinz Galleries’ glass doors, stands a diminutive four-and-a-half-feet tall model of Richard Serra’s Carnegie, the 466-feet-tall behemoth steel sculpture that currently stands outside the museum’s Forbes Avenue entrance and serves as an unofficial landmark for the museum. This presentation of a familiar structure with a disorienting shift in scale sets the tone for the exhibition.

Highlights of Ordinary Madness include groups of Charles Burchfield paintings and Ken Price ceramics; a gallery of glass and mirrors featuring works by Dan Graham, Barry Le Va, and Jim Lambie; photographs by Larry Clark and photo-collages by John Bock; representations of the nude by Pawel Althamer, Willem de Kooning, and Paul Cadmus; a darkened gallery of distorted bodies in video and sculpture by Robert Arneson, Lynda Benglis, Peter Campus, Anne Chu, and Tony Oursler; monumental paintings by Philip Guston, David Hockney, Laura Owens, Neo Rauch, and Peter Saul; major sculpture by Anthony Caro and Mike Kelley; new works to the collection by Giovanni Anselmo and Damian Ortega; and Karen Kilimnik’s recently acquired large-scale installation I Don’t Like Mondays, the Boomtown Rats, Shooting Spree, or Schoolyard Massacre.

Carnegie Museum of Art | Ordinary Madness | Contemporary Art |


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