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October 2000
144 pages  

11 x 9
Paper $21.95 Add to cart

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Steel Shadows
Murals and Drawings of Pittsburgh
Cooper, Douglas
This unique collection features double-page spreads of Douglas Cooper’s charcoal and paper drawings, the inspiration for his artistic vision, formal properties of his art and how it relates to architecture; and essay excerpts from Pittsburgh authors: poetry, historical accounts, and stories of the daily lives of Pittsburghers. Through words and art, his work shows the urban landscape of Pittsburgh as you have never seen it before.
Douglas Cooper, professor and muralist, teaches drawing in Carnegie Mellon University’s architecture program. Using unusual materials for public art—charcoal on paper—he has produced large (up to 200-foot-long) panoramic murals in Frankfurt, Germany, and in New York, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. A central theme of his work has been the overlay of the multiple meanings people attach to their surroundings. In three of his murals, Cooper has worked with the elderly and incorporated their stories into his art. Cooper has received grants for his work from the National Endowment for the Arts and has been honored by the American Institute of Architects for the contribution his murals have made to architecture.
“Cooper's drawings and murals draw me into each neighborhood, and it's almost as if I'm experiencing the cityscape first hand. House by house and street by street, these compelling works evoke the quality of urban life in all its multiplicity.”—David Wilkins, University of Pittsburgh

“It’s a combination of great Pittsburgh poetry––visual this time––with a sense of past and present that readers will recognize and enjoy.”—Louise Lippincott, Carnegie Museum of Art

“This could turn out to be the perfect Pittsburgh-themed coffee table book of the season . . . Packed with black-and-white pictures of his myriad drawings of the city’s panoramas, some of which are done quite realistically while others display an expressionistic style with skewed angles and multi-perspective views, this book rewards even the slightest glance with a sense of profound artistry.”—Manny Theiner, In Pittsburgh, November 22-29, 2000

“Having encountered Douglas Cooper’s stunning murals of Pittsburgh in their original grand scale, I imagined it would be difficult to capture their sweeping sense of place within the confines of a book. .. Yet the University of Pittsburgh Press has done just that in a handsome volume entitled Steel Shadows: Murals and Drawings of Pittsburgh... Mr. Cooper has set a very high standard in capturing the drama of Pittsburgh geography, using only the subtle gradiations of black and white and a keen eye for detail. Perhaps improbably, Mr. Cooper not only manages to portray the natural curves of the city’s rivers and hills, but also the manic attempt to impose order on them with mills and bridges, sjyscrapers and row houses. Infused with a string sense of the past, Mr. Cooper’s trick is to provide every necessary detail for convincing realism while creating an overall effect that seems nothing short of fantasy. “—Tim Schooley, Pittsburgh Business Times, April 13, 2001

This is a dizzying but intriguing look at the art of Carnegie Mellon Professor Douglas Cooper. These stories and drawings enrich the work and the history of the city, including places that are no more. —Ann Curran, Carnegie Mellon Magazine, Summer, 2001

Complete Description Reviews

Foreword by Richard Armstrong With Steel Shadows, you don’t have to visit exhibition halls at Carnegie Mellon University or the John Heinz History Center to enjoy Douglas Cooper’s unique, realistic and highly personal images of Pittsburgh. Steel Shadows brings his large charcoal and paper art home to you. Cooper details the inspiration for his artistic vision, as well as the formal properties of his art and how it relates to architecture. The book features double-page spreads of his murals, his essay, and excerpts from Pittsburgh authors telling the stories of the city’s ethnic and eclectic style of neighborhoods, combining details of bridge building and steel making with poetry, historical accounts, and stories of the daily lives of Pittsburghers, all set against the backdrop of the city’s raw industrial landscape. Steel Shadows is a book for students of art, architecture, urban studies, and oral history. Most of all, it is a book to share with friends and family, and a book to rekindle memories of this former steel town, now an artistic and cultural center.


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