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The New Whitney Museum of American Art Opens with “America Is Hard To See” and Breathtaking Views
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The New Whitney Museum of American Art Opens with “America Is Hard To See” and Breathtaking Views

- In the Galleries: On Location


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Exploring the New Whitney
and
“America Is Hard To See”
(“America Is Hard To See” Web Page)

At the
Whitney Museum
of American Art
99 Gansvoort Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 570-3600
www.whitney.org


Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 13, 2015


(Assisted by Whitney Exhibit Notes).

It felt truly like a vacation to arrive on a cool, breezy day at Gansvoort Street, between the High Line and the Hudson River, for a day at the new Whitney Museum. On May 1, 2015, the new building was officially opened, after having moved from the Madison Avenue at 75th Street location. The original, Whitney Studio Club, founded in 1918 by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, an artist and arts patron, developed into the Whitney Museum, in 1931, on West 8th Street in the Village. Now in its new surroundings, one is immediately released from the Upper East Side traffic. The new neighborhood streets are embedded with cobblestones and enjoy a wafting Hudson breeze, amidst sidewalk cafés and boutiques. The new Whitney’s Renzo Piano architecture is stunning and blends into the retro, New York Central train trestles and blue-green-grey shadings of the Hudson, while reflecting the busy, meatpacking district.

The Whitney lobby has a wide-open gift shop and expansive, floor to ceiling windows, as does the adjoining, upscale new restaurant, Untitled, where I and my arts colleague enjoyed a lovely lunch. The menu offerings are not only fresh and organic, but also gorgeous on the plate. In fact, the restaurant was so welcoming and relaxing that we lingered extra time to chat with the Untitled staff. Untitled is run by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group and is helmed by Chef Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern and Chef de Cuisine Suzanne Cupps. Upstairs, on the eighth floor, there’s the Studio Café, more casual with a gorgeous outdoor terrace, for dining with a view.

“America Is Hard To See”, drawn from the Whitney’s 22,000 works of American art, is organized throughout the entire building. On the first floor, lobby level, works originating from the Greenwich Village Whitney Studio Club include, among others, Robert Henri’s 1916 oil on canvas portrait of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, a glass cabinet of small sculptures of wood, stone, and marble, and a 1908 oil on canvas, called “Revue”, by Everett Shin, showing a grande dame entertainer. The four Whitney elevators are called “immersive installations”, with themes by Richard Artschwager, called “Six in Four”. At night the elevator door are parked on the lobby level, with open doors, so passersby can look through the giant windows and see art, beckoning them to return for more. Also at the corner of Gansvoort and Washington Streets, a large-scale digital print is hanging, across the street from the Whitney, as public art. A fifth floor outdoor gallery includes Mary Heilmann’s “Sunset”, sculptural chairs and pink wall elements, as well as a video, “Swan Song”, that shows the morphing of the old West Side Highway into the current, Hudson and Whitney surroundings. You can also find a varied Performance Program on www.whitney.org, which is curated in conjunction with “America Is Hard To See”.

The all-American works, from the Whitney holdings, are arranged by floor, mostly chronologically. Floor Eight, called the Hurst Family Galleries, is showing works from 1910-1940. Floor Seven, called the Robert W. Wilson Galleries and Jasper Bloomberg Outdoor Gallery, is showing works from 1925-1960. Floor Six, called the Collection Galleries and Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson Foundation Outdoor Gallery, is showing works from 1950-1975. Floor Five, called the Neil Bluhm Family Galleries and Kaufman Gallery, is showing works from 1965-Present. Floor Three is comprised of the Susan and John Hess Family Gallery and Theater (showing video works, plus performance and public programs) and the Laurie M. Tisch Education Center (created for seminars and education programs). Among the numerous works, viewed throughout the visit, that had personal impact, were Georgia O’Keefe’s 1918 oil on canvas, “Music, Pink and Blue No. 2”, Edward Hopper’s 1930 oil on canvas, “Early Sunday Morning”, Edward Ruscha’s 1962 oil, house paint, ink, and graphite pencil on canvas, “Large Trademark with Eight Spotlights”, and John Covert’s 1916 oil, gesso, and piled fabric on plywood, “Resurrection”.

Other works that immediately caught my eye (some have been favorites for decades, at the old Madison Avenue space) were Max Weber’s 1915 oil, charcoal, and collaged paper on linen, “Chinese Restaurant”, Agnes Pelton’s 1931 oil on canvas, “Untitled”, Joseph Stella’s renowned 1939 oil on canvas, “The Brooklyn Bridge, Variation on an Old Theme”, Alexander Calder’s 1940 painted sheet metal and wire, “Hanging Spider”, Edward Steichen’s 1935 gelatin silver print, “Advertisement for Coty Lipstick”, Florine Stettheimer’s 1931 oil on canvas, “Sun”, and Man Ray’s 1938 oil on linen, “La Fortune”. Mark Rothko’s 1958 oil on canvas, “Four Darks in Red”, evoked the Broadway play, Red. Also intriguing were Alex Katz’ 1930 oil on canvas, “The Red Smile”, Robert Bechtle’s 1968-69 oil on canvas, “61 Pontiac”, and Karen Kilimnik’s 1955 eclectically formed media exhibit, “The Hellfire Club, episode of the Avengers”. On four floors, there are exterior viewing terraces, with views reaching to the Statue of Liberty and the new, World Financial Center, plus exterior staircases. There’s also an expansive window view of the Hudson River, with cruising tour boats. You can skip the lines by becoming a member here. Kudos to the new Whitney Museum of American Art, which I plan to revisit soon.

You can check current and future exhibits at the new Whitney here.



The Whitney Museum of American Art
New Downtown Building, Designed by Renzo Piano
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Untitled, Floor One, at the Whitney Museum
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Untitled, Floor One, at the Whitney Museum
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



A Server Presents Rousse Wine
at Untitled, at the Whitney Museum
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Marinated Mussels with Fava and Cranberry Beans
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Smoked Clams and Cucumber with Yogurt
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Sugar Snap Peas and Charred Beets
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Asparagus and Turnips with Guanciale and Pecorino
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Allison Pryce, Untitled Manager
Lara Quiñones, Expeditor
Matt Brown, Sous Chef
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



"Resurrection", by John Covert
1916, Oil, gesso, and piled fabric on plywood.
Gift of Charles Simon.
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



"Chinese Restaurant", by Max Weber
1915, Oil, charcoal, and collaged paper on linen.
Purchase.
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



"Untitled", by Agnes Pelton
1931, Oil on canvas.
Purchase.
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



"The Brooklyn Bridge,
Variation on an Old Theme", by Joseph Stella
1939, Oil on canvas.
Purchase.
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



"Hanging Spider", by Alexander Calder
c. 1940, Painted sheet metal and wire.
Mrs. John B. Putnam, Bequest.
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



"Advertisement for Coty Lipstick", by Edward Steichen
c. 1935, Gelatin silver print.
Gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander.
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



"Sun", by Florine Stettheimer
1931, Oil on canvas, with painted wood frame.
Purchase.
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



"Early Sunday Morning", by Edward Hopper
1930, Oil on canvas.
Purchase.
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



"La Fortune", by Man Ray
1938, Oil on linen.
Purchase.
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



"Four Darks in Red", by Mark Rothko
1958, Oil on canvas.
Purchase.
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Northeast Views from a Whitney Museum Terrace
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



"The Red Smile", by Alex Katz
1930, Oil on canvas.
Purchase.
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



"'61 Pontiac", by Robert Bechtle
1968-69, Oil on canvas.
Purchase.
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



"The Hellfire Club, episode of the Avengers", by Karen Kilimnik
1955, Fabric, photocopies, candelabra, toy swords,
mirror, gilded frames, costume jewelry, boot,
fake cobwebs, silver tankard, audio media player,
and dried pea.
Gift of Peter M. Brant, courtesy The Brant Foundation
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



"Revue", by Everett Shin
1908, Oil on canvas.
Gift of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney.
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Small Sculptures from the original Whitney Studio, 1914,
and Whitney Studio Club, 1918.
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower


For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net