Carnegie Museum of Art Opens Teenie Harris Photographer. An American Story

Innovative Retrospective of Noted Photographic Artist and Photojournalist Presents a Comprehensive View of Mid-20th-Century African American Life

The Carnegie Museum of Art presents Teenie Harris Photographer. An American Story, the first major retrospective exhibition of the work and legacy of African American artist Charles “Teenie” Harris, will be on view at Carnegie Museum of Art through April 7, 2012.

The groundbreaking exhibition will celebrate the artist/photographer whose work is considered one of the most complete portraits anywhere of 20th-century African American experience. Large-scale, themed photographic projections of nearly 1,000 of Teenie Harris’s greatest images accompanied by an original jazz soundtrack will generate an immersive experience in the exhibition’s opening gallery. Subsequent galleries will present a chronological display of these photographs at a conventional scale, and give visitor access to the more than 73,000 catalogued and digitized images in the museum’s Teenie Harris Archive. The exhibition will offer an examination of Harris’s working process and artistry, and audio commentary on the man and his work by the people who knew him. In addition, the photographs and many of these materials will be accessible on Carnegie Museum of Art’s website.

“Since 2001, our museum has been the repository of the Teenie Harris Archive. This exhibition marks the culmination of a long effort to preserve and document an extensive collection of historically and artistically important images,” says Lynn Zelevansky, The Henry J. Heinz II Director of Carnegie Museum of Art. “We are honored to present this retrospective of a photographer whose body of work gives so much to us.”

During his 40-year career as freelance and staff photographer for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the nation’s most influential black newspapers, Teenie Harris (1908–1998) produced more than 80,000 images ofPittsburgh’s African American community. The photographs, taken from the 1930s to the 1970s, capture a period of momentous change for black Americans. His subjects ranged from the everyday lives of ordinary people to visits by powerful and glamorous national figures toPittsburgh, the nation’s industrial center. From birthday celebrations to civil rights boycotts, the distinctive vision of Harris’s photographs folds into the larger narrative of American history, art, and culture.

The show has been organized by Carnegie Museum of Art staff, working with an advisory committee fromPittsburgh’s African American community that provided direction for the exhibition’s content, themes, and goals. Members of the committee include Dr. Laurence Glasco, Dr. Johnson Martin, Tony Norman, Dr. Ralph Proctor, Cecile Shellman, and Dr. Joe Trotter. Members of the founding Teenie Harris Archive Advisory Committee include Neil Barclay, Oliver W. Byrd, Dr. Laurence Glasco, Charles A. Harris, Gladys Maharam, William Strickland Jr., Dr. Nancy Washington, and Dr. Deborah Willis; and project consultants Paul Messier, Elizabeth Shaw, Dr. Ralph Proctor, and John Brewer. Louise Lippincott, curator of fine arts at Carnegie Museum of Art is project manager for the exhibition and Kerin Shellenbarger is the Teenie Harris archivist.

Carnegie Museum of Art
Located at 4400 Forbes Avenuein the Oaklandsection of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art was founded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1895. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, it is nationally and internationally recognized for its distinguished collection of American and European works from the 16th century to the present. The HeinzArchitecturalCenter, part of Carnegie Museum of Art, is dedicated to enhancing understanding of the physical environment through its exhibitions, collections, and public programs. For more information about Carnegie Museum of Art, call 412.622.3131 or visit our website at www.cmoa.org.

Image: Charles “Teenie” Harris, Woman seated on car, with steel mill in background, c. 1940–1946 (detail). Black-and-white negative. Heinz Family Fund. Teenie Harris Archive © 2006 Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh.

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