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Current exhibits at the Whitney Museum of American Art

See what exhibitions are currently on view this year at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City

Photograph: Ron Amstutz
By Howard Halle |
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When Gilded Age heiress Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney established the museum bearing her name in 1931, America was a cultural backwater, making her stated mission of promoting American artists something of quixotic undertaking. It proved prescient, however, when America emerged as a superpower after World War II and altered the direction of art history with such made-in-the-U.S.A. movements as Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art and Minimalism. Though the Whitney was hardly alone in championing that work (MoMA, the Guggenheim, and, to a lesser extent, the Met, did, too), it was uniquely positioned to contextualize it within the wider frame of 20th-century art in America. The Whitney was also the first NYC institution to mount a regularly scheduled survey dedicated to taking the temperature of contemporary art: The Whitney Biennial, a show that became crucial in setting the latest trends. Many memorable Biennials took place on Madison Avenue, in a landmark building designed by Marcel Breuer (now home to the Met Breuer), but in 2015, the Whitney decamped to a much larger quarters, designed by Renzon Piano, in the Meatpacking District,. You can find everything on view there in our complete guide to the best current and upcoming shows at the Whitney Museum.

RECOMMENDED: Check out our full guide to the Whitney Museum, NYC

Current and upcoming Whitney exhibits

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Photograph: Hollis Johnson
Art, Contemporary art

Whitney Biennial 2019

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With 75 artists spread over four floors, you’re bound to find works that make you go Meh and others that make you go Wow at the Whitney Biennial. For our money, you should keep a lookout for Nicole Eisenman’s monumental sculpture blowing smoke out of its ass, Josh Kline’s photos that literally weep over the current state of America, Calvin Marcus’s slacker-primitive paintings, and Diane Simpson’s sculpture exploring the heretofore little-known connection between art deco and samurai aesthetics. As to what you might get out of the show as a whole, your mileage may vary depending on your tastes.

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Herman Trunk, Jr.,  Mount Vernon, 1932, detail
Photograph: Courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art

“Where We Are: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1900–1960”

For its latest installation of its permanent collection, the Whitney choses artworks from the first half of the 20th century, a period which saw the rise of the United States as a superpower, and organizes them around five themes: Family and community, work, home, the spiritual and the nation.

Ongoing

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Emma Amos, Baby, 1966
Photograph: Whitney Museum of American Art, © Emma Amos, courtesy the artist and Ryan Lee Gallery, New York
Art, Contemporary art

“Spilling Over: Painting Color in the 1960s”

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During the 1960s and ’70s, a group of painters began to use bold, saturated hues, employing what was then a new medium: acrylic pigment. Colorfield, hard-edged abstraction and Op Art were among the genres that emerged as a result, along with a neo-Fauvist approach to figurative Expressionism, whose adherents notably included a number women and African-Americans exploring gender and race in their work. Drawn on the Whitney’s collection, this show re-visits this colorful era in postmodern art.

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