Modern art comes to Pittsburgh: the 58th Carnegie International


Soun-Gui Kim, Stock Garden, installation view of Stock+Garden, Gallery 175, Seoul, 2008, Korea,

Alison Odekirk

The 58th Carnegie International art show opened to the public on Sept. 24, 2022. The exhibit features the works of more than 100 artists from around the globe. The Carnegie Museum of Art prides the Carnegie International as “the longest-running North American exhibition of international art” and one of the most significant art shows that takes place in Pittsburgh. 

The exhibition, which is organized every three to four years, collects and commissions works from international artists to add to the Carnegie’s collection. The title of this year’s exhibition, “Is it morning for you yet?” comes from a Mayan greeting that acknowledges the different ways people experience time and life, hinting at the range of art found within the exhibit. 

One of the most impressive components of this exhibit is the wide variety of mediums and styles on display. Everything from painting and sculpture to weaving and video can be found throughout the gallery. 

Take for example Soun-Gui Kim’s “Stock Garden,” an installation that includes stock market statistics projected onto potted plants and a wall, displayed across from Édgar Calel’s collection of pots filled with water and roses. While vastly different in materials, the works play off of each other, the natural elements in each piece complementing each other, giving the room an almost eerie stillness. 

Thu Van Tran, Colors of Grey, 2018, Musée National D’Art Moderne Centre Pompidou, Paris

The calmness of these two works is nowhere to be found in Mire Lee’s “Untitled (My Pittsburgh Sculpture)”—a machine-like sculpture covered in artificial viscera. The movements of the sculpture are loud and grating and paired with the disturbingly gory decorations. The piece is uncomfortable to look at yet impossible to look away from. 

Another piece that uses noise as a medium is Trương Công Tùng’s “the state of absence – voices from outside.” This piece is a series of pots, connected by plastic tubing that pumps air and dirt throughout the piece. The installation takes up most of the room that it is in, filling the space with sound and forms. The dripping and snapping sounds of the piece are almost hypnotic, it’s easy to spend a long time standing in the middle of the sculpture, trying to locate the source of each crack and pop. 

These unique uses of materials provide new insights into what is possible in art. 

The exhibit also works to bring attention to issues that are often ignored. “Colors of Grey” by Thu Van Tran highlights the devastation in Vietnam caused by the United States’ use of “Rainbow Herbicides” such as the infamous Agent Orange. Works by Let’s Get Free: The Women and Trans Prisoner Defense Committee informs museum patrons about the problems with mass incarceration and this organization’s work to transform the justice system. By giving prominence to these issues through beautiful works of art, “Is it morning for you yet?” encourages further awareness and discussion of persistent problems.

The Carnegie International successfully houses works in a wide variety of styles and mediums, broaching a vast array of societal concerns. However, each work’s purposeful organization and placement maintains a sense of cohesion throughout the collection.

Trương Công Tùng, the state of absence – voices from outside, 2020, courtesy of the artist

There is never a dull moment walking through the exhibit, each room brings something entirely new and fascinating. A perfect way to spend a day with friends or on your own, the Carnegie International brings modern art from across the globe right to Chatham’s backyard.

Chatham students receive free admission to The Carnegie Museum of Art with their student ID and can view the Carnegie International until April 2, 2023. Additionally, students enrolled in ART238-The Carnegie International this semester will explore the exhibit in-depth, analyze current modern art through the lens of the exhibit and make frequent visits to the museum.