National Geographic Traveller (UK)

Down to an art



It’s unlikely Pittsburgh will ever shed its industrial image; its American football team is, after all, the Steelers. And yet, for all its backstory of rust and metal, Pennsylvan­ia’s second-largest city is home to an art scene that’s mushroomed in the past decade, spanning everything from daring murals to a raft of must-visit museums.

Despite all the years spent in New York, Andy Warhol will always be a Pittsburgh boy: he was born here in 1928, leaving for the Big Apple aged 15. His career is celebrated at The Andy Warhol Museum, the largest museum in North America devoted to one artist. There’s a wealth of material here: the iconic silkscreen prints of Marilyn Monroe; his immortalis­ation of the Campbell’s soup can; and 472 ‘screen test’ video close-ups of famous faces, including Bob Dylan. There are letters and diaries, too, which show the man as well as the maverick.

Warhol’s roots are still visible at the Carnegie Museum of Art, where he spent boyhood Saturdays sketching the wonders on the walls. The museum is still a temple to contempora­ry painting, founded as a gift to the city by the industrial­ist-philanthro­pist Andrew Carnegie in 1895. But its collection is more than a procession of oil on canvas. Admire conceptual photograph­y by the likes of Ellen Carey or Nona Faustine, or classic US landscapes by Winslow Homer.

Over in the Central Northside, the Mattress Factory makes use of a warehouse where good nights’ sleeps were once manufactur­ed, only the dreams created here are more unsettling now. They include Repetitive Vision (mannequins set in a hall of mirrors by Yayoi Kusama) and It’s All About Me, Not You (a doll’s house that Greer Lankton has used to chronicle her battle with anorexia).

But some of Pittsburgh’s most intriguing art is found outside, not least in the Strip District, on the south bank of the Allegheny River. Its main drag, Penn Avenue, is home to the Strip Wall Mural, a giant, work crafted in 2010 by Shannon Pultz and Carley Parrish that captures the local bars, markets and restaurant­s. North east of here, in Lawrencevi­lle, are Butler

Street’s equally striking murals.

Plenty of art here goes beyond paint, such as Cell Phone Disco at 250 Tito Way in Downtown’s Cultural District. Receive a phone call while standing in this spot and a giant digital screen of LED lights flickers in time to your conversati­on. cellphoned­

 ?? ?? Left: Self-portrait of the artist on display at The Andy Warhol Museum
Left: Self-portrait of the artist on display at The Andy Warhol Museum

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