"Curating Minimalism at the Carnegie Museum of Art" by James DiBitetto

 

"Curating Minimalism at the Carnegie Museum of Art" by James DiBitetto

In many respects, the scholarly history of Minimalism, an artistic movement beginning in the 1960s that focused on the creation of reductive art, is quite extensive. Much is written about the formal qualities of Minimalist works as well as their production. Despite this, not much focus has been paid to the reception of these works, and almost no focus has been directed toward the display and curation of Minimalist art. My paper will use the Minimalism display at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as a case study to address and better understand the display and curation of Minimalist art objects.

At the Carnegie Museum, I have experienced three distinct, charged episodes of Minimalism display. These three displays revolve heavily around three separate decisions made by the curators of the 2013 Carnegie International, a large-scale exhibition currently on display at the museum. The first curatorial decision, the choice to disassemble the previous Minimalism gallery, highlights the first of the three aforementioned Minimalism episodes, the self-contained, Minimalist-focused gallery that was in place prior to the International. In conjunction with the decision to break up the Minimalism gallery, the second key decision made by the curators was to display the Minimalist works among artworks of different styles and time periods, leading to the Minimalism episode currently on display at the museum. In order to experience the third of the charged Minimalism episodes, we must move just outside the museum, where Phyllida Barlow’s Tip is in direct interaction with Richard Serra’s Carnegie, a sculpture that has been standing, undisturbed, since the 1985 Carnegie International. Having studied these three charged episodes extensively through personal experience as well as observations of how others approach the spaces, I, in this paper, will critically assess the curatorial decisions involving Minimalism made for the 2013 Carnegie International. My goal is to elaborate on the major successes and failures of each episode of display, allowing me to therefore assess the decisions made for the exhibition. I will focus particularly on the way in which the display fosters the Minimalist works it contains as well as the way the display imbues a sense of curatorial meaning and purpose with regard to the exhibition as a whole. 

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