The thing that distinguishes Whitney from NYC’s other art museums is right there in its official name: Whitney Museum of American Art. While you will certainly find 20th- and 21st century American artists in the collections of MoMA, the Guggenheim and The Met, the Whitney made promoting them its principle focus immediately upon opening in 1931—a then quixotic proposition at a time when New York’s art scene was considered provincial compared to those of Paris and the rest of the Continent. But it is a tribute to the vision of the museum’s founder, Gilded Age heiress Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, that her namesake institution’s mission has grown to succeed beyond her wildest imagination. Today, Whitney collection stalwarts such as Edward Hopper, Alexander Calder and Georgia O’Keeffe are considered to be some of the most prominent names in Art History. And over the last half century, its signature show, the Whitney Biennial, has been the most important barometer in ascertaining the direction of contemporary art—especially the editions mounted at the Marcel Breuer-designed building on Madison Avenue, which served as the Whitney’s address from 1966 until 2015. That year, the Whitney moved to a gleaming new home in the Meatpacking District. Situated at the foot of the High Line, the Renzo Piano-designed edifice features an expansive glass and steel lobby stretching along Gansevoort Street, a ground-floor gallery free to the public, a Danny Meyer–run restaurant and elevators that are also artworks by Pop-Formica maestro Richard Artschwager. The Whitney’s holdings comprises approximately 15,000 pieces—including paintings, sculptures, drawings photographs and videos—by nearly 2,000 artists. In other words, the Whitney is bigger and better than ever with even more resources to maintain its vital role of shepherding art stamped “Made in the U.S.A.”
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Where is the Whitney Museum in NYC?
The museum is at 99 Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District in Manhattan.
How do I get tickets to the Whitney Museum in NYC?
Tickets can be purchased online at the Whitney Museum website or at the museum entrance.
What’s the best way to get to the Whitney Museum in NYC?
Take the A, C, E, 1, 2, 3 subway lines to 14th St.
See a map of the Whitney Museum in NYC
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Current exhibits at the Whitney Museum of American Art
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
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Laura Owens puts art history in a blender and presses puree
Mining the history of painting while exploring the boundaries between representation and abstraction, Laura Owens employs a diverse range of references in her eccentrically captivating paintings. Born in Euclid, Ohio, near Cleveland, Owens attended the Rhode Island School of Design and later CalArts outside of Los Angeles, where she’s remained for more than 20 years. Owens is now the subject of a highly anticipated midcareer retrospective at the Whitney, which she talks about along with finding inspiration in spam emails and Martha Stewart. Laura Owens, Untitled, 2014 Photograph: Whitney Museum of American Art, © Laura Owens How did you become an artist?I had a boyfriend who went to the Cleveland Institute of Art. So I’d go up there to see him and hang out with artists. I got into the punk-rock scene there and started to go see art shows and alternative theater. I figured that if I became an artist, I’d never get bored. Plus, I just wanted to get out of Ohio. Laura Owens, Untitled, 1997 Photograph: Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, © Laura Owens So how did you?I went to summer art camp at Interlochen where one of my teachers was also a professor at the Rhode Island School of Design. He thought I should apply and told me what my portfolio should look like. If I hadn’t gone to Interlochen, I wouldn’t have known about RISD and CalArts. Laura Owens, Untitled, 1997 Photograph: Collection of Mima and César Reyes, © Laura Ow
Review: David Wojnarowicz at the Whitney Museum
David Wojnarowicz is usually remembered as a firebrand, raging in his incendiary art and writings against the hypocrisy and cruelty of American society. He was especially vituperative towards the homophobia and malignant neglect that precipitated the AIDS crisis in the late 1980s, which decimated gay men and the downtown New York art world, and killed the artist himself in 1992 at 37. But this beautifully curated retrospective does more than just give us the raw power of his jeremiads: It balances them with the romantic, poetic and visionary side of his work that is too often forgotten. David Wojnarowicz, Arthur Rimbaud in New York, 1978–79, Photograph: Courtesy the Estate of David Wojnarowicz and P.P.O.W., New York. Wojnarowicz grew up suffering abuse in a broken home and survived his teenage years as a homeless sex worker. Keenly attuned to callousness and injustice, he made himself the measure of all things in his art. In an early series of photographs, Arthur Rimbaud in New York (1978–79), Wojnarowicz took black-and-white photos of various friends wearing a photocopied mask of the French Symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud (1854–1891) as they went about their business—riding the subway, eating at a diner, shooting up, masturbating in bed—making it appear as if Rimbaud himself was living a wastrel life in the city. (In something of a cruel irony, both the artist and his subject were the same age when they died.) Though Wojnarowicz never wore the mask
Review: “Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium”
Museums seldom encourage substance abuse, but the Whitney’s terrific show of Hélio Oiticica (1937–1980) comes close. This retrospective devotes much of its real estate to the space-filling, immersive installations that are the Brazilian artist’s most impressive achievements, along with the work he produced in ’70s New York in which he obsessed over sex, drugs and rock & roll. Perhaps his greatest American creation, 1973’s CC5 Hendrix-War, features hammocks strung across a room where Jimi Hendrix’s War Heroes plays on speakers and a slide show projects images of the album cover adorned with lines of cocaine on the ceilings and walls. Never realized during his lifetime—the museum reconstructed it using his written instructions and 35-millimeter slides—CC5 Hendrix-War is a time-traveling treat that lets you sway in a hammock while watching a vintage son et lumière. Photograph: Ron Amstutz Oiticica began as a modernist in his native Rio de Janeiro. At the end of the 1950s, he joined the Neo-Concrete Group along with Lygia Pape and Lygia Clark, fellow artists interested in expanding abstraction into everyday life. By 1960 he had built PN1 Penetrable, a structure composed of wooden panels in shades of mustard and burnt orange that reenvisions monochrome painting as a walk-in closet by inviting spectators to enter the piece. Photograph: Ron Amstutz In the late 1960s, Oiticica began creating expansive environmental installations. Tropicália (1966–67) and Ed
Review: “Calder: Hypermobility”
Like that of Edward Hopper, the work of Alexander Calder is a mainstay of the Whitney’s collection. Every few years, the museum trots out another exhibition that attempts to put a new spin on one of these two warhorses. (In fact, it held joint shows of Calder and Hopper only three years ago.) This year’s model focuses on Calder’s use of movement, the defining quality that cemented his sculptures’ place in art history. In 1931, Calder invented mobiles, graceful arrangements of wire—sometimes strung with weightier elements of metal and wood—so precisely balanced that a touch or even a light breeze sends the individual parts turning or swaying in space. They quickly became worldwide museum fodder, and their bastard stepchildren hang everywhere from airport terminals to babies’ cribs. Alexander Calder, Aluminum Leaves, Red Post, 1941 Photograph: Jerry L. Thompson, Courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, © 2017 Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society, New York The Whitney devotes its entire top floor to 36 of Calder’s works, from early experiments with motorized parts—many newly restored and operational for the first time in decades—to a single stabile, the large freestanding sculpture The Arches (1959), to which a wall text gamely imputes “implied movement” because it looks different from various angles. The stars of the show, however, are the unmechanized mobiles—both the standing variety, with moving components sprouting from a base,