Virgil Cantini (1919-2009)
2009 (Date collected)
1969 – 1971 (Date created)
15 ft W
20 ft H
60 in W
80 in H
Notes: each individual panel (x50)
DescriptionLocated at: University of Pittsburgh, 3501 Terrace Street, G-133 Salk Hall
Large enamel assemblage by Virgil Cantini, commissioned by the Oliver Tyrone Company, Pittsburgh, PA. 50 individual panels.
Exhibition LabelOriginally located in One Oliver Plaza in downtown Pittsburgh (or the K&L Gates Center), this enamel mural was commissioned by Michael Rea (great-grandson of steel magnate Henry W. Oliver) in 1969. Another work was commissioned for the lobby at the same time, a ceramic mural by Pierre Soulages, now in the collection of the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio. Because of a renovation of the lobby, both murals were dismantled and relocated. Cantini's mural was donated to the University of Pittsburgh, and after considering an installation in Posvar Hall, it was finally displayed in the new atrium of Salk Hall, completed in 2015. Aerial Scape consists of 50 panels of 60 x 80 inches each. Cantini applied a basic coat of porcelain on which he fused the enamel. This layer was then laid-out on steel sheets to make the mounting on the wall easier. It was a complicated process, and the artist worked with engineers in order to determine the best firing temperature and to understand the adhesion of the glass on the metal and the number of layers possible without causing the panels to buckle. It took about 10 firings for each panel in his kiln at temperatures between 1,200-1,600 F. Like many of Cantini's murals, 'Aerial Scape' is a colorful piece. The artist organized the colors in a sort of quadrant that constructs the overall composition. Mainly primary colors, he created hues and gradations by sprinkling powdered glass onto his surface. He also mixed powdered glass with water to create a paste, which gave the pebble-like drops throughout the painting. The complex relationship and assemblage of geometric shapes - circles, rectangles, squares - and the intersection of lines, give a sense of energy and intensity.
University of Pittsburgh, 3501 Terrace Street, G-133 Salk Hall, since 2015
University of Pittsburgh, storage, 2009-2015
Donated to the University of Pittsburgh by One Oliver Associates, 2009
One Oliver Plaza, Pittsburgh, PA, 1970-2009
Commissioned to the artist by One Oliver and Associates c. 1968-1970
"Virgil Cantini: The artist in public", a film by Will Zavala and music by Philip Thompson (2009)
Patricia Lowry, "Cantini Mural will be moved to Pitt's Posvar Hall", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 27, 2009
Patricia Lowry, "At One Oliver Plaza, two Modern, monumental, once-cherished artworks need new homes", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 6, 2009
Office of Public Art, Pittsburgh Art in Public Places, Downtown Walking Tour, 2008, 2nd edition, p. 69
Barbara Holsopple, "Making of a Mural", in Roto, The Pittsburgh Press, Sunday February 21, 1971, p. 12-14
Please note that cataloging is ongoing and that some information may not be complete.