THE WHITNEY’S INAUGURAL EXHIBITION IN ITS NEW BUILDING PRESENTS FRESH NARRATIVES OF AMERICAN ART

America Is Hard to See Features Work by 400 Artists and Fills Every Indoor and Outdoor Exhibition Space in the Whitney’s New Meatpacking District Location, Opening on May 1, 2015

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.

The Whitney Museum of American Art will open its new Renzo Piano–designed home at 99 Gansevoort Street between Washington and West Streets on May 1, 2015, with an ambitious exhibition that reexamines the history of American art from 1900 to today. America Is Hard to See presents new perspectives on the Whitney’s collection, reflecting on art in the United States with more than 600 works by some 400 artists. The exhibition—its title taken from a Robert Frost poem that was also used by the filmmaker Emile de Antonio for one of his political documentaries—is the most extensive display to date of the Whitney’s collection.

Robert Bechtle (b. 1932).  '61 Pontiac, 19681969.  Oil on canvas, 59 3/4 × 84 1/4in. (151.8 × 214 cm). 	Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Richard and Dorothy Rodgers     Fund  70.16.  	© Robert Bechtle

Robert Bechtle (b. 1932). ’61 Pontiac, 19681969. Oil on canvas, 59 3/4 × 84 1/4in. (151.8 × 214 cm).
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Richard and Dorothy Rodgers
Fund 70.16. © Robert Bechtle

Running People at 2,616,216 (1978–79) by Jonathan Borofsky installed on the West Ambulatory, 5th floor, the inaugural exhibition, America Is Hard to See (May 1–September 27, 2015). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Photograph © Nic Lehoux

Running People at 2,616,216 (1978–79) by Jonathan Borofsky installed on the West Ambulatory, 5th floor, the inaugural exhibition, America Is Hard to See (May 1–September 27, 2015). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Photograph © Nic Lehoux

Drawn from the Whitney’s holdings, America Is Hard to See examines the themes, ideas, beliefs, visions, and passions that have preoccupied and galvanized American artists over the past one hundred and fifteen years. The exhibition’s narrative is propelled by a dynamic sense of invention and 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 ways in which artists have engaged various modes of production and broken the boundaries between them. Numerous pieces that have rarely, if ever, been shown will appear alongside familiar icons, in a conscious effort to challenge assumptions about the American art canon.

Georgia O'Keeffe, 18871986 Music, Pink and Blue No. 2, 1918 	Oil on canvas, 35 x 29 15/16in. (88.9 x 76 cm) 	Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Emily Fisher Landau        in honor of Tom Armstrong  91.90       ©2014 Georgia O’Keeffe  Museum / Artists Rights Society ( ARS), New York

Georgia O’Keeffe, 18871986
Music, Pink and Blue No. 2, 1918
Oil on canvas, 35 x 29 15/16in. (88.9 x 76 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Emily Fisher Landau
in honor of Tom Armstrong 91.90
©2014 Georgia O’Keeffe Museum / Artists Rights Society ( ARS), New York

America Is Hard to See is organized by a team of Whitney curators led by Donna De Salvo, Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Programs, which includes Carter E. Foster, Steven and Ann Ames Curator of Drawing; Dana Miller, Curator of the Permanent Collection; and Scott Rothkopf, Nancy and Steve Crown Family Curator and Associate Director of Programs; with Jane Panetta, Assistant Curator; Catherine Taft, Assistant Curator; and Mia Curran, Curatorial Assistant.

 Robert Henri, 18651929 Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, (1916) 	Oil on canvas, Overall: 49 15/16 x 72in. (126.8 x 182.9 cm) 	Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; 	Gift of Flora Whitney Miller  86.70.3

Robert Henri, 18651929
Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, (1916)
Oil on canvas, Overall: 49 15/16 x 72in. (126.8 x 182.9 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York;
Gift of Flora Whitney Miller 86.70.3

Eva Hesse (19361970).  No title, (19691970).  	Latex, rope, string, and wire, Dimensions variable 	Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from Eli and Edythe L. Broad, the      Mrs. Percy Uris Purchase Fund, and the 	Painting and Sculpture Committee  88.17ab     © Estate of Eva Hesse; courtesy Hauser & Wirth.

Eva Hesse (19361970). No title, (19691970). Latex, rope, string, and wire, Dimensions variable
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from Eli and Edythe L. Broad, the
Mrs. Percy Uris Purchase Fund, and the Painting and Sculpture Committee 88.17ab
© Estate of Eva Hesse; courtesy Hauser & Wirth.

Adam D. Weinberg, the Whitney’s Alice Pratt Brown Director, commented: “The DNA of the Whitney Museum—and Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s vision to champion the art and artists of the United States—is encoded in its collection. Accordingly, to display a larger portion of our unparalleled holdings of American art was a key impetus for the new building. The opening exhibition offers an unprecedented occasion to display one hundred and fifteen years of American art, throughout the new Whitney. This will be the first of many opportunities to show the complexities, subtleties, and glories of the art of our country in a new light and to share aspects of the breadth and depth of our collection in all mediums.”

Edward Hopper, 18821967 Early Sunday Morning, (1930) 	Oil on canvas, 35 3/16 x 60in. (89.4 x 152.4 cm) 	Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from       Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney  31.426       © Whitney Museum of American Art

Edward Hopper, 18821967
Early Sunday Morning, (1930)
Oil on canvas, 35 3/16 x 60in. (89.4 x 152.4 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from
Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney 31.426
© Whitney Museum of American Art

Miss De Salvo noted: “The title America Is Hard to See points to the impossibility of offering a tidy picture of this country, its culture and, by extension, its art. The exhibition takes up this challenge through the lens of the Whitney’s collection, re-examining well-known art historical tropes, proposing new narratives, and even expanding the definition of who counts as an American artist. We did not conceive of this exhibition as a comprehensive survey, but rather as a sequence of provocative thematic chapters that taken together reflect on American art history from the vantage point of today.”

Cindy Sherman (b. 1954).  Untitled Film Still #45, 1979. Gelatin silver print, Sheet: 8 × 10in. (20.3 × 25.4 cm) 		Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; promised gift of Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner      P.2011.357  © Cindy Sherman; courtesy artist and Metro Pictures, New York.

Cindy Sherman (b. 1954). Untitled Film Still #45, 1979. Gelatin silver print, Sheet: 8 × 10in. (20.3 × 25.4 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; promised gift of Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner
P.2011.357 © Cindy Sherman; courtesy artist and Metro Pictures, New York.

Edward Ruscha (b. 1937).  Large Trademark with Eight Spotlights, 1962.  	Oil, house paint, ink, and      graphite pencil on canvas, Overall: 66 15/16 × 133 1/8in. (170 × 338.1 cm).  	Whitney Museum of American Art,     New York; purchase, with funds from the Mrs. Percy Uris Purchase Fund  85.41  © Ed Ruscha

Edward Ruscha (b. 1937). Large Trademark with Eight Spotlights, 1962. Oil, house paint, ink, and
graphite pencil on canvas, Overall: 66 15/16 × 133 1/8in. (170 × 338.1 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art,
New York; purchase, with funds from the Mrs. Percy Uris Purchase Fund 85.41 © Ed Ruscha

R. H. Quaytman (b. 1961).  Distracting Distance, Chapter 16, 2010.  	Screenprint and gesso on wood,      24 5/8 × 39 7/8in. (62.5 × 101.3 cm).  	Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds      from the Painting and Sculpture Committee  2010.54.  © R. H. Quaytman

R. H. Quaytman (b. 1961). Distracting Distance, Chapter 16, 2010. Screenprint and gesso on wood,
24 5/8 × 39 7/8in. (62.5 × 101.3 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds
from the Painting and Sculpture Committee 2010.54. © R. H. Quaytman

Installed throughout the building, America Is Hard to See is organized as a series of twenty-three “chapters”—sections that build on a particular theme through related artworks. Each chapter is named after a work of art that appears in that section of the show. The exhibition unfolds chronologically, beginning with a display relating to the Whitney’s origins on Eighth Street, on view in the first-floor gallery (a space which is open to the public free of charge), and proceeding with works from the first decades of the twentieth century on the Museum’s top gallery floor on Eight. The exhibition continues on Floors Seven and Six with work from the mid-twentieth century, and concludes on Five, where works from the late 1960s to the present will be displayed in the Museum’s largest space, an 18,000-square-foot column-free gallery with floor-to-ceiling windows and striking views to the east and west. The show will also occupy the Museum’s terraces, which provide nearly 13,000 square feet of additional exhibition space. The majority of the exhibition will be on view through September 27, 2015, with some floors closing on a staggered schedule before and after that date. Continue reading

The Whitney Presents Edward Steichen in the 1920s and 1930s: A Recent Acquisition, Highlighting a Beneficent Gift from Richard and Jackie Hollander

The Whitney Museum of American Art will mount an exhibition of works by Edward Steichen, the pioneering American photographer best known for his striking portraits from the early-twentieth century. Organized by senior curatorial assistant Carrie Springer, the exhibition includes celebrity portraits and fashion photographs taken for Vanity Fair and Vogue, images shot for advertising campaigns, and a selection of photographs that show the artist’s interest in the natural world. The approximately forty-five works that comprise Edward Steichen in the 1920s and 1930s: A Recent Acquisition were a generous gift to the Whitney from Richard and Jackie Hollander in memory of Ellyn Hollander. The exhibition will be on view from December 6 through February 2014 in the Museum’s Anne & Joel Ehrenkranz Gallery.

Edward Steichen, Marlene Dietrich, (for Vanity Fair), 1931. Gelatin silver print, 10 × 8in. (25.4 × 20.3 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art; gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander in memory of Ellyn Hollander  2012.234

Edward Steichen, Marlene Dietrich, (for Vanity Fair), 1931. Gelatin silver print, 10 × 8in. (25.4 × 20.3 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art; gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander in memory of Ellyn Hollander 2012.234

Edward Steichen (1879–1973) began his career as a painter and a photographer, producing atmospheric and expressive photographs with a deliberate painterly appearance. After serving in World War I as an aerial photographer, he abandoned painting and developed a more modernist approach to photography, focusing on making images for the printed page. After serving as the chief photographer for Condé Nast publications from 1923 to 1937, Steichen resigned from his post and, at the age of fifty-nine, gave up his New York studio.

Edward Steichen, Foxgloves, France, 1925. Gelatin silver print, 9 15/16 × 7 15/16in. (25.2 × 20.2 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art; gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander in memory of Ellyn Hollander  2012.222

Edward Steichen, Foxgloves, France, 1925. Gelatin silver print, 9 15/16 × 7 15/16in. (25.2 × 20.2 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art; gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander in memory of Ellyn Hollander 2012.222

During World War II, Steichen volunteered for service, and became director of the U.S. Navy Photographic Institute, in charge of all Navy Combat photography. In 1947, he was appointed director of the Department of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art, where he worked for fifteen years and curated more than forty exhibitions. His most famous show was The Family of Man (1955), a wide-ranging exhibition of photographs by artists from around the world linked together a shared human experience. MoMA also mounted an exhibition of Steichen’s own work in 1961, the year before he retired. In 1963 President John F. Kennedy presented Steichen with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor the government bestows to a civilian.

Edward Steichen, Paul Robeson (as Brutus Jones in The Emperor Jones, for Vanity Fair), 1933. Gelatin silver print, mounted on board, 9 15/16 × 8in. (25.2 × 20.3 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art; gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander in memory of Ellyn Hollander  2012.240

Edward Steichen, Paul Robeson (as Brutus Jones in The Emperor Jones, for Vanity Fair), 1933. Gelatin silver print, mounted on board, 9 15/16 × 8in. (25.2 × 20.3 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art; gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander in memory of Ellyn Hollander 2012.240

This exhibition covers a period when Steichen was the chief photographer for Condé Nast Publications, a position he held from 1923 to 1937. Considered one of the greatest portrait photographers at that time, Steichen was assigned to photograph famous actors, writers, artists, statesmen, and society figures for Vogue and Vanity Fair magazines. His portraits—including iconic images of Winston Churchill, Paul Robeson, Marlene Dietrich, Eugene O’Neill, and Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, among others which will be on view— depict a rich slice of cultural history. Continue reading