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A Wise Extravagance

A Wise Extravagance: The Founding of the Carnegie International Exhibitions, 1895–1901

Copyright Date: 1996
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    A Wise Extravagance
    Book Description:

    Andrew Carnegie, industrialist and a major American philanthropist, sought to bring world-class art and culture to Pittsburgh. This book looks at how the Carnegie International exhibit came into being in 1895, the early exhibitions, the art, artists, and the public reception to it.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7172-6
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. 1 The Founders and Their Philosophy
    (pp. 1-22)

    In the 1890s, America was ripe for an annual international exhibition of contemporary art. During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the country had ceased to be an aesthetic backwater: wealthy Americans, often of informed and progressive tastes, had become a major source of patronage for European art, and American artists, trained in the best schools of Europe, had begun to enjoy considerable success abroad. The reputations of such native sons as James McNeill Whistler, John Singer Sargent, and John White Alexander fully equaled those of European luminaries such as Adolphe Bouguereau, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, and Giovanni Boldini. An interest...

  2. 2 The First Exhibitions, 1895–1896
    (pp. 23-60)

    In Octomber 1894 John Beatty told H. K. Porter that the loan exhibition proposed for the following year should “emphasize the national importance of the founding of this superb gallery, with its magnificent endowment, and I cannot but think that we ought to strike as high a key as possible. For the time being we will have the attention of the nation and the art world, and all future efforts on behalf of art in Pittsburg will be made with comparative ease if the opening exhibition make the right impression.” This was an accurate prediction of the significance of the...

  3. 3 The Exhibition and the Artists
    (pp. 119-171)

    The purpose of the 1897 reforms was to eliminate the odious “business man’s jury” and replace it with a jury that would command the respect and confidence of the art world. The Fine Arts Committee never stated this explicitly and preferred to speak of enhancing the value of the exhibition and making Pittsburgh a great art center, but the unveiling of a new plan only a few days after the error in awarding a prize to Gari Melchers was made public allowed obvious conclusions to be drawn. According to thePittsburgh Times, the Melchers incident was alone responsible for the...

  4. 4 The Exhibition and the Public, 1897–1901
    (pp. 172-214)

    Although one of Carnegie’s major purposes was to bring sweetness and light into the lives of Pittsburgh’s workers, the exhibition was by no means keyed to the working-class public. Like older exhibitions in other cities, the Carnegie annual celebrated its opening every year with a gala reception for the more affluent and notable section of the community. The “press view,” held from seven to ten o’clock on the eve of the official opening, was so called, according to a writer for thePittsburgh Dispatch, because “a few lone newspaper men were permitted to foregather with numerous artists, lawyers, doctors and...

  5. 5 The Achievement of the Early Internationals
    (pp. 215-232)

    On 20 March 1902, the Fine Arts Committee announced that the annual competitive exhibitions were to be discontinued. A special loan exhibition would occupy the galleries in the last two months of 1902, and competitive exhibitions would be held every other year thereafter, with loan exhibitions in the alternate years. The loan exhibitions, it was explained, would further the Institute’s educational mission by exposing Pittsburghers to a broader range of art than the competitive exhibitions could provide. Moreover, the quality of the latter would improve, for the Fine Arts Committee had noticed that “the present-day artists cannot contribute first-class work...

  6. APPENDIX A Prizewinners at the Carnegie Annual Exhibitions, 1896–1901
    (pp. 233-234)
  7. APPENDIX B Juries of Award, 1896–1901
    (pp. 235-236)