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.
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.
It's a combination of great Pittsburgh poetry--visual this time--with a sense of past and present that readers will recognize and enjoy.
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.
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.
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.
Douglas Cooper is a Pittsburgh-based muralist who combines topography, story, history and memory into panoramic civic murals, some up to 200 feet-long. Typically, he works with local residents to incorporate their lives into these works, often with drawings in their own hands. Over the years he has collaborated with photographers animators and fabric artists in creating murals in Frankfurt, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Qatar, Rome, San Francisco, and Seattle. His drawings have been exhibited in individual gallery shows in Cologne, New York, Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Washington D.C. Cooper teaches hand drawing at the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon and he is the author of two books: Drawing and Perceiving and Steel Shadows.