Paper No. 243-1
Presentation Time: 1:40 PM
GEOLOGY OF THE LANDSCAPE PAINTINGS AT THE CARNEGIE MUSEUM OF ART, A REFLECTION OF THE ANTHROPOCENE, 1860 TO 2017
Pittsburgh, circa 1850 was a city in transition from its origin as, predominately, a river frontier and agrarian society to an eventual international industrial powerhouse. The global climate was changing too, as the last vestige of the cool period known as the “Little Ice Age” (circa 1300 – 1850 B.P.) ended, with a return to the 10,000+year-old interglacial warm period. In western Pennsylvania, geology associated with past climates had formed the fossil fuels of coal, oil, and natural gas that provided the energy sources for the rapid industrialization of the American Gilded Age. Andrew Carnegie, Pittsburgh’s preeminent industrialist built his fortune with steel, coal, and iron ore. Carnegie’s philanthropic legacy commenced with the Carnegie Institute, a Historic Landmark Building constructed of stone and marble, comprising the Carnegie Library and Music Hall (1895), and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and the Carnegie Museum of Fine Art (1907). This building is built on a Pleistocene epoch river bottom, once farmland that grew into the modern cultural and academic center of Pittsburgh. Landscape paintings are an ideal historic record for interpreting the Anthropocene. We reviewed 48 of the Carnegie Museum of Art’s 19th and early 20th century landscape paintings that are on public view, paintings that reflect the period known as the Gilded Age. The landscapes of such international acclaimed artists as Paul Cézanne, Asher Brown Durand, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro are interpreted for potential anthropogenic and natural climate emissions. The landscapes of the Pittsburgh artists of William Coventry Wall, Russell Smith, and John Kane feature anthropogenic climate emissions of industrial Pittsburgh. The landscapes portray the progression from an idealized river landscape frontier to a heavy industrial city. The postmodern landscape of Pittsburgh is recycling the old Gilded Age Industrial sites with a more environmental friendly postmodern landscape of high tech, academic, local organic farms and multiuse structures.