This Just In!: David Breslin And Adrienne Edwards Will Curate The 2021 Whitney Biennial

The Whitney Museum of American Art announced today that its 2021 Biennial, the 80th edition, will be co-organized by two brilliant members of the Museum’s curatorial department, David Breslin and Adrienne Edwards. The 2021 Whitney Biennial exhibition will open in the spring of 2021 and is presented by Tiffany & Co., which has been the lead sponsor of the Biennial since the Museum’s move downtown.

Image credit: Adrienne Edwards and David Breslin. Photograph by Bryan Derballa

Alice Pratt Brown Director Adam D. Weinberg noted: “The central aim of the Biennial is to be a barometer of contemporary American art. Each Biennial is a reflection of the cultural and social moment as it intersects with the passions, perspectives, and tastes of the curators. David and Adrienne will be a great team. They are inquisitive, curious, and are acutely attuned to the art of the current moment. No doubt they will bring fresh outlooks to this historic exhibition and reinvent it for these complex and challenging times.”

With a long history of exhibiting the most promising and influential artists and provoking debate, the Whitney Biennial is the Museum’s signature survey of the state of contemporary art in the United States. The Biennial, an invitational show of work produced in the preceding two years, was introduced by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1932, and it is the longest continuous series of exhibitions in the country to survey recent developments in American art.

Initiated by founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1932, the Whitney Biennial is the longest-running survey of American art. More than 3,600 artists have participated, including Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jacob Lawrence, Alexander Calder, Louise Bourgeois, Joan Mitchell, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Oldenburg, Roy Lichtenstein, Agnes Martin, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Serra, Lynda Benglis, Frank Bowling, Joan Jonas, Barbara Kruger, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jenny Holzer, David Wojnarowicz, Glenn Ligon, Yvonne Rainer, Zoe Leonard, Kara Walker, Cindy Sherman, Nan Goldin, Mike Kelley, Lorna Simpson, Renée Green, Wade Guyton, Julie Mehretu, Cecilia Vicuña, Mark Bradford, Daniel Joseph Martinez, Ellen Gallagher, Rachel Harrison, Wu Tsang, Nick Mauss, Sarah Michelson, Laura Owens, Postcommodity, Pope.L, Jeffrey Gibson, and Tiona Nekkia McClodden.

The biennials were originally organized by medium, with painting alternating with sculpture and works on paper. Starting in 1937, the Museum shifted to yearly exhibitions called Annuals. The current format—a survey show of work in all media occurring every two years—has been in place since 1973. The 2019 Biennial (still on partial view on the Museum’s sixth floor until October 27) was organized by two Whitney curators, Jane Panetta and Rujeko Hockley. It featured seventy-five artists and collectives working in painting, sculpture, installation, film and video, photography, performance, and sound.

David Breslin was recently named the DeMartini Family Curator and Director of Curatorial Initiatives, a role he will assume this month. Since joining the Museum in 2016 as DeMartini Family Curator and Director of the Collection, Breslin has spearheaded the Museum’s collection-related activities, curating a series of major collection exhibitions and overseeing acquisitions. Working closely with his curatorial colleagues, he has organized or co-organized four timely and thematized collection displays, including Where We Are: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1900–1960, An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017, Spilling Over: Painting Color in the 1960s, and The Whitney’s Collection: Selections from 1900 to 1965, which is currently on view on the Museum’s seventh floor. In 2018, he co-curated (with David Kiehl) the landmark retrospective David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night.

Breslin came to the Whitney from the Menil Drawing Institute, where he created an ambitious program of exhibitions and public and scholarly events and helped to shape the design of the Institute’s new facility. He also oversaw work on the catalogue raisonné of the drawings of Jasper Johns and grew the collection. Prior to the Menil, Breslin served as the associate director of the research and academic program and associate curator of contemporary projects at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA; he also oversaw the Clark’s residential fellowship program and taught in the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art. Breslin co-edited Art History and Emergency: Crises in the Visual Arts and Humanities (Yale University Press, 2016), a volume that grew from a Clark Conference he organized with art historian Darby English.

In 2018, Adrienne Edwards was named Engell Speyer Family Curator and Curator of Performance at the Whitney. Previously, she served as curator of Performa since 2010 and as Curator at Large for the Walker Art Center since 2016.

At the Whitney, Edwards curated Jason Moran, the artist’s first museum show, now on view on the Museum’s eighth floor. She originated the exhibition at the Walker in 2018; it previously traveled to the ICA Boston and the Wexner Center for the Arts. The exhibition features a series of performances, Jazz on a High Floor in the Afternoon, curated by Edwards and Moran. She organized the event commencing the construction of David Hammons’s Day’s End, featuring a commission by composer Henry Threadgill and a “water” tango on the Hudson River by the Fire Department of the City of New York’s Marine Company 9. Earlier this year, Edwards organized Moved by the Motion: Sudden Rise, a series of performances based on a text co-written by Wu Tsang, boychild, and Fred Moten, which presented a collage of words, film, movements, and sounds.

For Performa, Edwards realized new boundary-defying commissions, as well as pathfinding conferences and film programs with a wide range of over forty international artists. While at the Walker, she co-led the institution-wide Mellon Foundation Interdisciplinary Initiative, an effort to expand ways of commissioning, studying, collecting, documenting, and conserving cross-disciplinary works. Edwards’s curatorial projects have included the critically acclaimed exhibition and catalogue Blackness in Abstraction, hosted by Pace Gallery in 2016. She also organized Frieze’s Artist Award and Live program in New York in 2018. Edwards taught art history and visual studies at New York University and The New School, and she is a contributor to the National Gallery of Art’s Center for the Advanced Study in Visual Art’s forthcoming publication Black Modernisms.

Scott Rothkopf, the Whitney’s Senior Deputy Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, said, “David and Adrienne truly represent the best spirit and ideals of the Whitney. Not only are they devoted to—and beloved by—living artists, but they bring to the art of our time a deep historical and scholarly awareness. The most recent editions of the Biennial have reaffirmed its vitality and relevance, and I look forward to discovering how another pair of Whitney curators will lend their voices to our signature exhibition.”

David Wojnarowicz Retrospective At The Whitney Explores The Enduring Resonance Of An Artist Who Merged The Personal And The Political

This summer, the most complete presentation to date of the work of artist, writer, and activist David Wojnarowicz will be on view in a full-scale retrospective organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art. David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night is the first major re-evaluation since 1999 of one of the most fervent and essential voices of his generation.

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David Wojnarowicz with Tom Warren, Self-Portrait of David Wojnarowicz, 1983–84. Acrylic and collaged paper on gelatin silver print, 60 × 40 in. (152.4 × 101.6 cm). Collection of Brooke Garber Neidich and Daniel Neidich, Photograph by Ron Amstutz. (The exhibition is organized by David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of the Collection, and David Kiehl, Curator Emeritus, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.)

Opening at the Whitney on July 13 and running through September 30, David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night features more than a hundred works by the artist and is organized by two Whitney curators, David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of the Collection, and David Kiehl, Curator Emeritus. The exhibition, which will be installed in the Museum’s fifth floor Neil Bluhm Family Galleries through September 30, draws upon the scholarly resources of the Fales Library and Special Collections (NYU), the repository of Wojnarowicz’s archive, and is also built on the foundation of the Whitney’s extensive holdings of Wojnarowicz’s work, including thirty works from the Museum’s collection. It will travel to the Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid, in May 2019, and to Mudam Luxembourg – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg City, in November 2019.

Scott Rothkopf, Deputy Director for Programs and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, remarked, “Since his death more than twenty-five years ago, David Wojnarowicz has become an almost mythic figure, haunting, inspiring, and calling to arms subsequent generations through his inseparable artistic and political examples. This retrospective will enable so many to confront for the first time, or anew, the groundbreaking multidisciplinary body of work on which his legacy actually stands.”

Beginning in the late 1970s, David Wojnarowicz (1954–1992) created a body of work that spanned photography, painting, music, film, sculpture, writing, performance, and activism. Joining a lineage of iconoclasts, Wojnarowicz (pronounced Voyna-ROW-vich) saw the outsider as his true subject. His mature period began with a series of photographs and collages that honored—and placed himself among—consummate countercultural figures like Arthur Rimbaud, William Burroughs, and Jean Genet. Even as he became well-known in the East Village art scene for his mythological paintings, Wojnarowicz remained committed to writing personal essays. Queer and HIV-positive, Wojnarowicz became an impassioned advocate for people with AIDS at a time when an inconceivable number of friends, lovers, and strangers—disproportionately gay men—were dying from the disease and from government inaction.

After hitchhiking across the U.S. and living for several months in San Francisco, and then in Paris, David Wojnarowicz settled in New York in 1978 and soon after began to exhibit his work in East Village galleries. Largely self-taught, Wojnarowicz came to prominence in New York in the 1980s, a period marked by great creative energy and profound cultural changes. Intersecting movements—graffiti, new and no wave music, conceptual photography, performance, neo-expressionist painting—made New York a laboratory for innovation. Unlike many artists, Wojnarowicz refused a signature style, adopting a wide variety of techniques with an attitude of radical possibility. Distrustful of inherited structures, a feeling amplified by the resurgence of conservative politics, Wojnarowicz varied his repertoire to better infiltrate the culture.

His essay for the catalog accompanying the exhibition Witnesses: Against Our Vanishing (curated by Nan Goldin at Artists Space in 1989–90) came under fire for its vitriolic attack on politicians and leaders who were preventing AIDS treatment and awareness. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) threatened to defund the exhibition, and Wojnarowicz fought against this and for the first amendment rights of artists. Continue reading

America Is Hard to See: Film & Video Screenings at The Whitney Museum of American Art

As part of the landmark exhibition America Is Hard to See, the Whitney Museum of American Art presents a screening series showcasing films and videos from the Museum’s collection by approximately fifty artists. Programs screen on select Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in the Susan and John Hess Family Theater on the Museum’s third floor. Special Saturday evening events feature expanded cinema performances and rare screenings of works on film.

SCREENING SCHEDULE

Nayland Blake (b. 1960), still from Negative Bunny, 1994. Video, color, sound, 30 min. looped. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Lin Lougheed  2014.268 © Nayland Blake 1994; image courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Nayland Blake (b. 1960), still from Negative Bunny, 1994. Video, color, sound, 30 min. looped. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Lin Lougheed 2014.268 © Nayland Blake 1994; image courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Normal Love
July 3, 11 am
August 22, 7 pm
September 6, 4 pm

In Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures (1962–63), David Wojnarowicz’s A Fire in My Belly (1986–87), Nayland Blake’s Negative Bunny (1994), and Kenneth Anger’s Mouse Heaven (2005), intense desire is often expressed through indirect means, including role-playing and emulation or appropriation of popular culture.

Jack Smith  (b. 1932, Colombus, OH; d. 1989; New York, NY), Flaming Creatures, 1962–63. 16mm film, black‑and‑white, sound, 43 min. Gift of Gladstone Gallery, New York 2010.209

David Wojnarowicz (b. 1954, Red Bank, NJ; d. 1992, New York, NY), A Fire In My Belly (Film In Progress) and A Fire In My Belly (Excerpt), 1986–87. Super 8mm film transferred to video, black‑and‑white and color, silent, 13:06 min. and 7 min. Purchase with funds from the Director’s Discretionary Fund 2012.4

Nayland Blake (b. 1960, New York, NY), Negative Bunny, 1994. Video, color, sound; 30 min. Gift of Lin Lougheed 2014.268

Kenneth Anger (b. 1927, Santa Monica, CA), Mouse Heaven, 2005. Video, color, sound; 10 min. Gift of the artist 2006.226

Mike Kelley (1954-2012), still from Day Is Done, 2005-2006. Video, color, sound; 169 min. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from Randy Slifka  2009.128 © Estate of Mike Kelley; Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York

Mike Kelley (1954-2012), still from Day Is Done, 2005-2006. Video, color, sound; 169 min. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from Randy Slifka 2009.128 © Estate of Mike Kelley; Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York

Day Is Done
July 3, 2 pm
August 16, 11 am
September 19, 1 pm

Mike Kelley based his 2005–6 Day is Done on a series of high school yearbook photographs of “extracurricular activities,” which Kelley transformed into a fractured, quasi-narrative musical that cycles through themes such as personal trauma, the structure of the institution, repressed memory, mass cultural ritual, and adolescence.

Mike Kelley (b. 1954, Detroit, MI; d. 2012, South Pasadena, CA) Day Is Done, 2005–6. Video, color, sound; 169 min. Purchase with funds from Randy Slifka 2009.128

Matt Saunders (b. 1975), still from Century Rolls, 2012. Video, color; 10:45 min. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Film, Video, and New Media Committee 2013.81 © 2015 Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders (b. 1975), still from Century Rolls, 2012. Video, color; 10:45 min. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Film, Video, and New Media Committee 2013.81 © 2015 Matt Saunders

The Art of Vision
July 3, 8 pm
August 21, 11 am
September 19, 5 pm

The program includes Julie Murray’s Untitled (light) (2002), Sandra Gibson’s NYC Flower Film (2003), Stan Brakhage’s Chinese Series (2003), Bryan Frye’s Oona’s Veil (2000), Luis Recoder’s Linea (2002), and Matt Saunders’s Century Rolls (2012). Examining the material and formal conditions of film, video, and animation, these artists build on the tradition of American avant-garde filmmaking. On September 19, Sandra Gibson’s NYC Flower Film will be screened on film, and Gibson will be present.

Brian Frye (b. 1974, San Francisco, CA), Oona’s Veil, 2000. 16mm film, black and white, sound; 11 min. Purchase with funds from the Film and Video Committee 2002.160

Julie Murray (b. 1961, Dublin, Ireland), Untitled (light), 2002. 16mm film, color, sound; 5 min. Purchase with funds from the Film and Video Committee 2004.46

Luis Recoder (b. 1971, San Francisco, CA), Linea, 2002. Two channel 16mm film, black and white, silent; 18 min. Purchase with funds from the Film and Video Committee 2005.23

Sandra Gibson (b. 1968, Portland, OR), NYC Flower Film, 2003. Super 8 film transferred to video, color, silent; 5 min. Purchase with funds from George Kaufman 2004.642

Stan Brakhage (b. 1933, Kansas City, MO; d. 2003; Victoria, Canada), Chinese Series, 2003. 16mm film, color, silent; 2 min. Purchase, with funds from the Orentreich Family Foundation  2005.119

Matt Saunders (b. 1975; Tacoma, WA) Century Rolls, 2012. Video, color, silent; 10:45 min. Purchase with funds from the Film, Video, and New Media Committee 2013.81

Maya Deren (1917-1961), still from At Land, 1944. 16mm film, black-and-white, silent, 15 min. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Film, Video, and New Media Committee  2015.45 © Estate of Maya Deren; image courtesy Anthology Film Archives

Maya Deren (1917-1961), still from At Land, 1944. 16mm film, black-and-white, silent, 15 min. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Film, Video, and New Media Committee 2015.45 © Estate of Maya Deren; image courtesy Anthology Film Archives

Dream States
July 4, 11 am
August 16, 3 pm
September 6, 2 pm

Made in the 1940s, Maya Deren’s At Land (1944) and Hans Richter’s Dreams that Money Can Buy (1947) draw on dream imagery and surrealism to produce non-narrative experimental cinema.

Maya Deren (b. 1917, Kiev, Ukraine; d. 1961, New York, NY) At Land, 1944. 16mm film transferred to video, black-and-white, silent; 15 min. Purchase with funds from the Film, Video, and New Media Committee  2015.45

Hans Richter (b. 1888, Berlin, Germany; d. 1976, Minusio, Switzerland) Dreams That Money Can Buy, 1943. 16mm film transferred to video, color, sound; 85 min. Purchase with funds from the Film, Video, and New Media Committee  T.2014.151

Yvonne Rainer (b. 1934), still from Five Easy Pieces, 1966-69. 8mm and 16mm film transferred to video, black-and-white, silent; 48 min. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo in honor of Ron Clark and The Independent Study Program  2011.91 © Yvonne Rainer; courtesy Video Data Bank, www.vdb.org

Yvonne Rainer (b. 1934), still from Five Easy Pieces, 1966-69. 8mm and 16mm film transferred to video, black-and-white, silent; 48 min. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo in honor of Ron Clark and The Independent Study Program 2011.91 © Yvonne Rainer; courtesy Video Data Bank, http://www.vdb.org

Inner and Outer Territories
July 4, 3 pm
August 21, 2 pm
September 6, 11 am

The social and psychological space presented in Yvonne Rainer’s Five Easy Pieces (1966–69) and David Lamelas’s The Desert People (1974) is set against the landscape of the deserts of the American West represented in Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels (1978) and Walter De Maria’s Hardcore (1969).

Yvonne Rainer (b. 1934, San Francisco, CA), Five Easy Pieces, 1966–69. 8mm and 16mm film transferred to video, black‑and‑white, silent, 48 min. Purchase with funds from Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo in honor of Ron Clark and The Independent Study Program  2011.91

Walter De Maria (b. 1935, Albany, CA; d. 2013, Los Angeles, CA), Hardcore, 1969. Two‑channel 16mm film transferred to video, color, sound; 28 min. Gift of Virginia Dwan  94.79

David Lamelas (b. 1946, Buenos Aires, Argentina), The Desert People, 1974. 16mm film, color, sound; 52 min. Gift of the artist  2001.238

Nancy Holt (b. 1938, Worcester, MA; d. 2014, New York, NY), Sun Tunnels, 1978. 16mm film transferred to video, color, sound, 28:31 min. Purchase with funds from Cristina Enriquez‑Bocobo in honor of Cody Smith  2010.142

Howardena Pindell (b. 1943), still from Free, White and 21, 1980. Video, color, sound; 12:15 min. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Film, Video, and New Media Committee  2015.35 © Howardena Pindell

Howardena Pindell (b. 1943), still from Free, White and 21, 1980. Video, color, sound; 12:15 min. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Film, Video, and New Media Committee 2015.35 © Howardena Pindell

Radical Takes
July 4, 6 pm
August 23, 11 am
August 30, 4 pm

Made at the height of the feminist movement, Howardena Pindell’s Free, White and 21 (1980), Cynthia Maughan’s sixteen selected videos (1973–78), and Suzanne Lacy’s Learn Where the Meat Comes From (1976) present frank, derisive, and at times humorous commentary on identity, including female subjectivity, and—in Pindell’s case—race.

Howardena Pindell (b. 1943, Philadelphia, PA), Free, White and 21, 1980. Video, color, sound; 12:15 min. Purchase with funds from the Film, Video, and New Media Committee  2015.35

Cynthia Maughan (b. 1949, Bell, CA), Scar/Scarf, 1973–74; Arteries and Veins, 1974; Frozen & Buried Alive, 1974–75; Coffin from Toothpicks, 1975; Statue, 1975; Razor Necklace, 1975; The Way Underpants Really Are, 1975; Chart of the Solar Systems Showing Gods Home on Venus, 1975; Monster Voice, 1975; Candy Mexican Hats, 1977; The Four Horsemen, 1977; Tsetse Fly, 1977–78; On Being in Love, 1977–78; I Tell Three Cats About Jail, 1977–78; Tamale Pie, 1978; Calcium Pills, 1978. All: Video, sound; running times variable. Purchased with funds from the Film, Video, and New Media Committee  2015.1.1–16

Suzanne Lacy (b. 1945, Wasco, CA) Learn Where the Meat Comes From, 1976, from the series Anatomy Lessons. Video, color, sound; 14:20 min. Purchase with funds from the Film, Video, and New Media Committee  2014.142

Kevin Jerome Everson (b. 1965), still from Act One: Betty and the Candle, 2010. 16mm film transferred to video, black-and-white, silent, 11:25 min. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Film, Video, and New Media Committee  2012.17 © Kevin Jerome Everson; courtesy the artist, Tribolite-Arts DAC, and Picture Palace Pictures

Kevin Jerome Everson (b. 1965), still from Act One: Betty and the Candle, 2010. 16mm film transferred to video, black-and-white, silent, 11:25 min. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Film, Video, and New Media Committee 2012.17 © Kevin Jerome Everson; courtesy the artist, Tribolite-Arts DAC, and Picture Palace Pictures

Lyrical Observations
July 5, 11 am
August 14, 7 pm
August 29, 11 am

Robert Beavers’s Sotiros (1975–96), Kevin Jerome Everson’s Act One: Betty and the Candle (2010), Anna Gaskell’s SOSW Ballet (2011), and David Hartt’s Stray Light (2011) are intimate observations that become poetic—sometimes lyrical, sometimes pensive—in their sustained duration.

Robert Beavers (b. 1949, Brookline, MA), Sotiros, 1975–96. 35mm film, color, sound; 25 min. Purchase with funds from the Film and Video Committee and preserved with funds from the National Film Preservation Foundation  2003.90

Kevin Jerome Everson (b. 1965, Mansfield, OH), Act One: Betty and the Candle, 2010. 16mm film transferred to video, black-and-white, silent, 11:25 min. Purchase with funds from the Film, Video, and New Media Committee  2012.17

Anna Gaskell (b. 1969, Des Moines, IA), SOSW Ballet, 2011. 35mm film, color, sound; 27:04 min. Purchase with funds from the Film, Video, and New Media Committee  2012.20

David Hartt (b. 1967, Montreal, Canada), Stray Light, 2011. Video, color, sound; 12:12 min. Purchase with funds from the Film, Video, and New Media Committee  2013.80

Liz Magic Laser (b. 1981), still from I Feel Your Pain, 2011. Video, color, sound; 180 min., with poster. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo and The Dorothea L. Leonhardt Foundation, Inc. in honor of Ron Clark, Director, Independent Study Program  2013.14 © Liz Magic Laser 2011. Performa Commission. Featuring Annie Fox and Rafael Jordan. Photograph by Yola Monakhov

Liz Magic Laser (b. 1981), still from I Feel Your Pain, 2011. Video, color, sound; 180 min., with poster. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo and The Dorothea L. Leonhardt Foundation, Inc. in honor of Ron Clark, Director, Independent Study Program 2013.14 © Liz Magic Laser 2011. Performa Commission. Featuring Annie Fox and Rafael Jordan. Photograph by Yola Monakhov

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FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA TO ATTEND WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART DEDICATION CEREMONY

First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama will be the special guest (and speaker) at the Dedication Ceremony and Official Ribbon-Cutting for the new downtown New York City home of the Whitney Museum of American Art (99 Gansevoort Street, New York, NY 10014) on Thursday, April 30, 2015, at 11 am. The Whitney’s new building returns the Museum to downtown Manhattan where it was founded in 1930 by artist and philanthropist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. The 220,000-square-foot building in the Meatpacking District doubles the Museum’s exhibition space, enabling the Whitney to present its innovative exhibitions and programs in the context of the world’s foremost collection of twentieth-century and contemporary American art. The building opens to the public on Friday, May 1, 2015.

A view of the building from the High Line, November 2014. Photograph by Timothy Schenck

A view of the building from the High Line, November 2014. Photograph by Timothy Schenck

A view of the High Line and the building’s eastern face, December 2014. Photograph by Ed Lederman

A view of the High Line and the building’s eastern face, December 2014. Photograph by Ed Lederman

The new building viewed from across the Hudson River, October 2014. Photograph by Timothy Schenck

The new building viewed from across the Hudson River, October 2014. Photograph by Timothy Schenck

Other distinguished guests and speakers will include Bill de Blasio, Mayor of the City of New York; Adam D. Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Director, Whitney Museum of American Art; Renzo Piano, architect; Chairman and Founding Partner, Renzo Piano Building WorkshopRobert J. Hurst, Co-Chairman, Whitney Board of Trustees; Brooke Garber Neidich, Co-Chairman, Whitney Board of Trustees; Neil G. Bluhm, President, Whitney Board of Trustees and Flora Miller Biddle, Honorary Chairman, Whitney Board of Trustees, and granddaughter of Museum founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. Other participants will include Matana Roberts, composer and alto saxophonist, performing a commissioned musical work, Incantation, The Wooster Group, renowned experimental theater company, performing the ribbon-cutting, and teens from the Whitney’s Youth Insights Program. Admittance to the ceremony is by invitation only but a live webcast will be available to the public at whitney.org/Dedication.

The Meatpacking District is a twenty-square-block neighborhood on the far West Side of Manhattan. Surrounding the meatpacking plants just north of Gansevoort Street are some of New York’s most notable restaurants, bars, fashion boutiques, clubs, and hotels. The neighborhood is bordered to the north and east by Chelsea, renowned for its art galleries, cultural organizations, and educational institutions. To the south is the West Village and its nineteenth-century townhouses, charming streets, and unique shops. To the west is the Hudson River. (Photography by Timothy Schenck)

The Meatpacking District is a twenty-square-block neighborhood on the far West Side of Manhattan. Surrounding the meatpacking plants just north of Gansevoort Street are some of New York’s most notable restaurants, bars, fashion boutiques, clubs, and hotels. The neighborhood is bordered to the north and east by Chelsea, renowned for its art galleries, cultural organizations, and educational institutions. To the south is the West Village and its nineteenth-century townhouses, charming streets, and unique shops. To the west is the Hudson River. (Photography by Timothy Schenck)

Situated between the High Line and the Hudson River in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, the new building will vastly increase the Whitney’s exhibition and programming space, offering the most expansive display ever of its unsurpassed collection of modern and contemporary American art.

Whitney Museum of American Art. Photograph by Ed Lederman

Whitney Museum of American Art. Photograph by Ed Lederman

The High Line is New York City’s newest and most unique public park. Located thirty feet above street level on a 1930s freight railway, the High Line runs from Gansevoort Street  in the Meatpacking District to 34th Street in Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen. It features an integrated landscape combining meandering concrete pathways with naturalistic plantings.

The High Line is New York City’s newest and most unique public park. Located thirty feet above street level on a 1930s freight railway, the High Line runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to 34th Street in Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen. It features an integrated landscape combining meandering concrete pathways with naturalistic plantings.

The fifth floor gallery’s east-facing window, seen from below, October 2014. Photograph by Timothy Schenck

The fifth floor gallery’s east-facing window, seen from below, October 2014. Photograph by Timothy Schenck

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The new building in the evening, October 2014. Photograph by Timothy Schenck

The new building in the evening, October 2014. Photograph by Timothy Schenck

Workers constructing the exterior stairs, December 2014. Photograph by Timothy Schenck

Workers constructing the exterior stairs, December 2014. Photograph by Timothy Schenck

Upclose exterior view of the (new) Whitney Museum of American Art in the Meatpacking District.  Photograph by Ed Lederman

Upclose exterior view of the (new) Whitney Museum of American Art in the Meatpacking District. Photograph by Ed Lederman

Whitney Museum of American Art. Photograph © Nic Lehoux

Whitney Museum of American Art. Photograph © Nic Lehoux

Designed by architect Renzo Piano, the new building will include approximately 50,000 square feet of indoor galleries and 13,000 square feet of outdoor exhibition space and terraces facing the High Line. An expansive gallery for special exhibitions will be approximately 18,000 square feet in area, making it the largest column-free museum gallery in New York City. Additional exhibition space includes a lobby gallery (accessible free of charge), two floors for the permanent collection, and a special exhibitions gallery on the top floor.

According to Mr. Piano, “The design for the new museum emerges equally from a close study of the Whitney’s needs and from a response to this remarkable site. We wanted to draw on its vitality and at the same time enhance its rich character. The first big gesture, then, is the cantilevered entrance, which transforms the area outside the building into a large, sheltered public space. At this gathering place beneath the High Line, visitors will see through the building entrance and the large windows on the west side to the Hudson River beyond. Here, all at once, you have the water, the park, the powerful industrial structures and the exciting mix of people, brought together and focused by this new building and the experience of art.”

The dramatically cantilevered entrance along Gansevoort Street will shelter an 8,500-square-foot outdoor plaza or “largo,” a public gathering space steps away from the southern entrance to the High Line. The building also will include an education center offering state-of-the-art classrooms; a multi-use black box theater for film, video, and performance with an adjacent outdoor gallery; a 170-seat theater with stunning views of the Hudson River; and a Works on Paper Study Center, Conservation Lab, and Library Reading Room. The classrooms, theater, and study center are all firsts for the Whitney.

A retail shop on the ground-floor level will contribute to the busy street life of the area. A ground-floor restaurant and top-floor cafe will be conceived and operated by renowned restaurateur Danny Meyer and his Union Square Hospitality Group, which operated +Untitled+, the restaurant in the Whitney’s Marcel Breuer building on the Upper East Side, until programming there concluded on October 19.

Mr. Piano’s design takes a strong and strikingly asymmetrical form—one that responds to the industrial character of the neighboring loft buildings and overhead railway while asserting a contemporary, sculptural presence. The upper stories of the building overlook the Hudson River on its west, and step back gracefully from the elevated High Line Park to its east.

The campaign for the new Whitney goes far beyond the creation of a new museum facility that will showcase and safeguard the Museum’s irreplaceable collection. It is an investment in future generations of artists and the growing audiences who will engage with their work.  Continue reading

THE WHITNEY ANNOUNCES INAUGURAL YEAR EXHIBITIONS FOR ITS NEW DOWNTOWN HOME

When The Whitney Museum of American Art‘s new Renzo Piano-designed home on Gansevoort Street (99 Gansevoort Street, New York, NY 10014 (212) 570-3600) opens its doors on May 1, 2015, the inaugural installation will be the largest display to date of the Whitney’s permanent collection. The inaugural exhibition, America is Hard to See, presents a distinctly Whitney narrative drawn entirely from the Museum’s unparalleled permanent collection of 20th- and 21st-century American art. This ambitious display will offer new perspectives on art in the United States since 1900, following the Whitney’s in-depth analysis of its collection of more than 20,000 works, an initiative that has been underway since 2012. The opening presentation will fill over 60,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor exhibition space, utilizing all galleries in the building, and it will celebrate the Whitney’s extraordinary new home and the richness of American art. The sweep of the collection is echoed in the building’s magnificent multiple perspectives: the new Whitney looks south toward the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, east into the city, and west across the Hudson toward the expanse of the country.

 

The Whitney Museum of American Art. View from the Hudson River, October 2014. Photograph by Tim Schenck.

The Whitney Museum of American Art. View from the Hudson River, October 2014. Photograph by Tim Schenck.

Following this distinctly Whitney narrative will be an array of exhibitions devoted to the work of Archibald Motley, Frank Stella, Laura Poitras, and David Wojnarowicz, as well as a show of hundreds of works gifted to the Whitney and the Centre Pompidou in Paris by Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner.

The Whitney has been steadily building a remarkable world-class collection of American art since our founding by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1930, much of which has remained largely unseen,” said Adam D. Weinberg, the Whitney’s Alice Pratt Brown Director. “This transformative moment—the opening of our beautiful new home downtown—calls for a fresh look at ourselves and is the perfect occasion for us to celebrate our collection, the essence of who we are.

Led by Donna De Salvo, Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Programs, a team of Whitney curators, including Carter Foster, Dana Miller, and Scott Rothkopf, has conducted an unprecedented study of the collection in consultation and debate with other members of the curatorial department as well as artists, curators, and scholars from a variety of fields. Throughout this process, the team has rediscovered forgotten works and figures that will be shown alongside the Museum’s iconic treasures in order to provide a challenging and revealing take on more than a century of art in the United States. This narrative will be propelled by a dynamic sense of invention and even conflict, as artists struggled to work within and against established conventions and often directly engaged their political and social contexts. Works of art across all mediums will be displayed together, acknowledging the important ways in which modern and contemporary artists have engaged various modes of production and broken the boundaries among them.

Miss De Salvo noted, “The new building is a game changer for the Whitney and, we hope, New York’s cultural landscape. Our program—a mix of exhibitions, screenings, performances, and permanent collection presentations—will demonstrate that while the Whitney remains committed to embracing the art of the present, it can now do so against the backdrop of over a hundred years of history. Our aim is to present history and artistic production as an open, rather than closed chapter.”

 

On the occasion of the opening of the new building, the Museum will publish an expanded handbook of the collection, its first since 2002, featuring 350 artists. A companion volume will explore the Whitney’s core philosophy through essays discussing the Museum’s history and the ongoing reinvention of its display strategies and changing definitions of American art in a global context. Following is a list of selected exhibitions that will be presented during the Museum’s first year downtown.

ARCHIBALD MOTLEY: JAZZ AGE MODERNIST
OCT 2, 2015–JAN 17, 2016

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Archibald Motley (1891—1981) was one of the most important figures associated with the Harlem Renaissance and is best known as both a master colorist and a radical interpreter of urban culture. Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist is the first full-scale survey of his paintings in two decades. The exhibition will offer an unprecedented opportunity to carefully examine Motley’s dynamic depictions of modern life in his home town, Chicago, as well as in Jazz Age Paris and Mexico. Specifically, it will highlight his unique use of both expressionism and social realism and will resituate this underexposed artist within a broader, art historical context. The exhibition will be presented in the sky-lit eighth floor galleries of the new Whitney during its inaugural year.

Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist is organized by the Nasher Museum at Duke University and curated by Professor Richard J. Powell. The installation at the Whitney Museum will be overseen by Carter E. Foster, Steven and Ann Ames Curator of Drawing.

FRANK STELLA  – OCT 30, 2015–FEB 7, 2016

Frank Stella, Gran Cairo, 1962. Synthetic polymer on canvas, 85 1/2 × 85 1/2 in. (217.2 × 217.2 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Friends of the Whitney Museum of American Art  63.34. © 2010 Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Frank Stella, Gran Cairo, 1962. Synthetic polymer on canvas, 85 1/2 × 85 1/2 in. (217.2 × 217.2 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Friends of the Whitney Museum of American Art 63.34. © 2010 Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The Museum will present a career retrospective of Frank Stella (b. 1936), one of the most important living American artists. This survey will be the most comprehensive presentation of Stella’s career to date, showcasing his prolific output from the mid-1950s to the present through approximately 120 works, including paintings, reliefs, maquettes, sculptures, and drawings. Co-organized by the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and the Whitney, this exhibition will feature Stella’s best-known works alongside rarely seen examples drawn from collections around the world. Accompanied by a scholarly publication, the exhibition will fill the Whitney’s entire fifth floor, an 18,000-square-foot gallery that is the Museum’s largest space for temporary exhibitions.

This exhibition is curated by Michael Auping, Chief Curator, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, with the involvement of Adam D. Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Director, Whitney Museum of American Art. Continue reading