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President Taft, the International, and the Pirates

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

s-day KE-Honus-Wagner-by-Bingaman

During some archival research for the upcoming re-installation of the International’s collection, I came across an unlabeled black-and-white photograph (top). After some some further digging it became apparent that the picture represents a highlight in the early history of both the exhibition and Major League Baseball. The photo features a huge painted billboard which bears an image of Pittsburgh Pirates fans packed into the stands at Exposition Park and is flanked by two inscriptions: PRESIDENT TAFT APPLAUDING WAGNER’S TWO-BAGGER MAY 29, 1909 and WELCOME MR. PRESIDENT FOUNDER’S DAY MAY 2, 1910. The painting on the board was a reproduction of a photo taken by Frank Bingaman first published in the Pittsburgh Press on May 30, 1909. The related article, “Taft Has Jolly Time at Ball Game but Upsets Plans,” detailed how William Howard Taft (an avid baseball fan) was “the first U.S. President to attend a Major League baseball game at a location other than Washington.” The game also gave Taft the chance to witness the legendary play of Pirate Honus Wagner, “The Flying Dutchman.” The Pirates lost this game 3–8 to the Chicago Cubs, but ultimately won the World Series later that year (thanks in large part to Wagner’s .339 batting average for the season).

President Taft remained in Pittsburgh for two days. Besides attending the Pirates game, he participated in the initiation of Memorial Fountain in Arsenal Park and visited the Allegheny County Club, confirmed by several photographs in the museum’s archives (below).

Just one year later, President Taft returned to Pittsburgh and again attended a Pirates game, which the Pirates won this time 5–2 against the Cubs on May 2, 1910. According to the press, Taft’s visit to Forbes Field was part of a tight schedule the President had to complete during his two-day stay in Pittsburgh. An article in the Pittsburgh Press read “Great Preparations Made to Entertain Head of Nation.” On the morning of May 2, 1910, thousands must have lined the streets in Oakland to catch a glimpse of the President residing in the Schenley Hotel and leaving for the Carnegie Music Hall later on. President Taft attended the museum’s Founder’s Day celebration, which coincided with the opening of the Annual Exhibition (now known as the Carnegie International). He gave a speech and officially opened the fourteenth International.

The following day the Pittsburgh Press article “President Gives Talk about Art” described the atmosphere and decorations in the Carnegie Music Hall for the event and featured a summary of the President’s speech. The small annual booklet that typically contains the Founder’s Day summary included a report on the occurrences and a reproduction of the entire address. Here is an excerpt:

“The contrast necessarily impresses itself on one’s mind of  the enormous material development and progress of Pittsburgh on the one hand, with the smoke and the fire that indicate the great industries on every hand, and then the esthetic side of the community, that is shown and encouraged in this great temple of art, of music, and of learning….In the old countries the people—the common people—love art and music, and therefore, those who have the control of the government do not hesitate to use the proceeds of taxes to encourage those tastes, and to give the pleasure that music and art give to those people….In Europe you cannot help being impressed with the love of art of the common people. And while we may be pardoned in our first hundred years for not having spread wider that love because of the difficulties we had to encounter in settling this country and in making it prosperous in a material way, we certainly cannot as a people escape from severe condemnation if in the next hundred years we do not make great progress, great strides in the matter of the love of art, and its cultivation on every hand.”

In more recent news, Taft has recently been elected to join the Washington Nationals’ “Racing Presidents” Mascots.

Nicola Schroeder is a German art historian currently living in Pittsburgh and working on the archive of the Carnegie International.

Sorry I haven’t posted

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013


Sorry I haven’t posted… We opened Cory Arcangel: Masters on November 2nd, 2012, with a special artist talk with Cory. The same evening we also launched a social media intervention designed by Cory. Here are some of the results. Visit us during this last week of the exhibition and don’t miss Arcangel’s band, Title TK, perform this Saturday at the Carnegie Lecture Hall. They open for Bonnie Prince Billy.

Team Baumann

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Team Baumann_Salut

Ellsworth Kelly and two friends model the new 2013 Carnegie International uniforms.

Meet the designers: Kloepfer-Ramsey

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

If you follow this blog, you may have noticed that we recently got a makeover. You may have wondered whether, from one visit to the next, you actually just witnessed the unveiling of the 2013 Carnegie International’s graphic identity?! And the answer would be yes. Yes you did, and you were among the first to see it.

The design was developed by Kloepfer-Ramsey, a graphic design studio in New York, established in 2010 by Chad Kloepfer and Jeff Ramsey. They work primarily with clients in the fields of art and architecture on print, identity, interactive, and exhibition-related projects. Chad and Jeff sent me this description of the design concept they’ve developed for us:

In working to establish an identity for the show we focused on two of the main themes: play and dissonance. These themes helped create a structure for thinking and form making, in devising a system in which various elements can be played with and positioned in terms of scale, shape, color, placement, and material. By creating a core group of visual shapes, images, and verbal cues the identity starts to take shape through the juxtaposition of these elements, almost like a mood board. Sometimes they come together in very formal, more aggressive arrangements, and at other times less rigid or more open-ended groupings leaving the viewer to make connections between the pieces. This strategy of groupings seemed to align with how the curators were thinking about the artists and their relationship(s) to one another. As the identity starts to react to the forms and content of its application throughout the show, and on the various materials produced, that diversity, or dissonance, is made concrete. Very little is seen as “off limits” for the possibilities of application, since in the end, this helps produce a richer, more varied experience. Overall, the identity is meant to provide a playful and informative counterpoint to the exhibited works.

Check out more of Chad and Jeff’s work on their website.

Demosplash 2012

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Second Reality

Still from Second Reality, by Future Crew, 1993

With artists Cory Arcangel and Jacob Ciocci, I entered the world of the demoparty. The first night of Demosplash 2012 kicked off with pizza, soft drinks, and a screening of Second Reality, perhaps one of the best known and most imitated demos in history by a Finnish group called Future Crew. For those not in-the-know, demos are short, real-time videos played directly on a computer that feature prismatic color graphics, 3D-like spatial effects at times mesmerizing and dizzying, and catchy techno sounds that make you feel like dancing.  Old computer demos are artworks in themselves. Feats of technical skill meant to showcase and stretch the hardware of a computer through the prowess of programming, like Second Reality (originally released as a PC demo in 1993), set the rhythm for Demosplash’s weekend-long events hosted by the 30-year old Computer Club of Carnegie Mellon. On stage that evening was the Club’s collection of antiques made miraculously functional by a band of miked expert/commentators wearing Demosplash t-shirts running back and forth trading cables between various pieces of hardware, including the Commodore 64, the Amiga, Atari 8-bit, and both the Apple II and Apple’s Lisa to name a few. Sadly, the chiptune rave was postponed due to technical difficulties—all the more reason to come back next year.