Portraits are one of the richest veins of the Whitney’s collection, thanks to the Museum’s longstanding commitment to the figurative tradition, championed by its founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney.
Drawn entirely from the Museum’s holdings, Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney’s Collection features 230 works made from 1903 to 2016 by an extraordinary range of some 170 artists, more than half of whom are living. The works included in this exhibition propose diverse and often unconventional ways of representing an individual. Many artists reconsider the pursuit of external likeness—portraiture’s usual objective—within formal or conceptual explorations or reject it altogether. Through their varied takes on the portrait, the artists in Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney’s Collection demonstrate the vitality of this enduring genre, which serves as a compelling lens through which to view some of the most important social and artistic developments of the past century.
Floor Six of the exhibition predominantly focuses on art since 1960, while Floor Seven includes works from the first half of the twentieth century alongside more contemporary offerings.
Over the past two months, 142 new works have been installed in the exhibition, allowing the inclusion of many artists not on view when the first phase of the show debuted last spring. Organized in eleven thematic sections on two floors of the Museum, with works in all media installed side by side, the exhibition is considerably transformed from its initial installation and will remain on view through February 12, 2017.
Artists newly added to the exhibition include Cory Arcangel, Anne Collier, Grace Hartigan, Josh Kline, Kerry James Marshall, Shirin Neshat, Martha Rosler, Alison Saar, Lucas Samaras, Collier Schorr, John Sonsini, and Jonas Wood, while other artists, including Jasper Johns, Catherine Opie, Charles Ray, Cindy Sherman, and Andy Warhol are represented by different works than before. Many iconic works from the collection by such artists as Alexander Calder, Arshile Gorky, Marsden Hartley, Edward Hopper, Alice Neel, and Georgia O’Keeffe, remain on view. (See complete list of included artists on whitney.org.)
Human Interest is curated by Scott Rothkopf, Deputy Director for Programs and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, and Dana Miller, former Richard DeMartini Family Curator and Director of the Permanent Collection, with Mia Curran, former curatorial assistant; Jennie Goldstein, assistant curator; and Sasha Nicholas, consulting curator.