Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City
The Whitney Museum of American Art, often referred to simply as "the Whitney", is an art museum with a focus on 20th- and 21st-century American art. Located at 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street in New York City, the Whitney's permanent collection contains more than 18,000 works in a wide variety of media. The Whitney places a particular emphasis on exhibiting the work of living artists for its collection as well as maintaining an extensive permanent collection containing many important pieces from the first half of the last century. The museum's Annual and Biennial exhibitions have long been a venue for younger and less well-known artists whose work is showcased by the museum.
Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, the museum's namesake and founder, was herself a well-regarded sculptor as well as a serious art collector. As a patron of the arts, she had already achieved some success as the creator of the "Whitney Studio Club," a New York–based exhibition space which she created in 1918 to promote the works of avant-garde and unrecognized American artists. With the aid of her assistant, Juliana Force, Whitney had collected nearly 700 works of American art, which she offered to donate to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1929, but the museum declined the gift. This, along with the apparent preference for European modernism at the recently opened Museum of Modern Art, led Whitney to start her own museum, exclusively for American Art, in 1929. In 1931, architect Noel L. Miller converted three row houses on West 8th Street in Greenwich Village – one of which had been the location of the "Studio Club" – to be the museum's home as well as a residence for Whitney.
Force became the first director of the museum, and under her guidance, the museum concentrated on displaying the works of new and contemporary American artists. Gertrude Whitney's daughter, Flora Payne Whitney, served as a museum trustee, then as vice president. From 1942 to 1974 she was the museum's president and chairman after which she functioned as honorary chairman until her death in 1986. Her daughter, Flora Miller Biddle, served as its president until 1985. In 1999, her book The Whitney Women and the Museum They Made was published.
In 1954, the museum left its original location The present building, planned and built 1963–1966 by Marcel Breuer and Hamilton P. Smith in a distinctively modern style, is easily distinguished from the neighboring townhouses by its staircase façade made from granite stones and its external upside-down windows.
In order to secure additional space for the museum’s collections, then-director Thomas N. Armstrong III developed plans for a 10-story, $37.5-million addition to the Whitney’s main building. The proposed addition, designed by Michael Graves and announced in 1985, drew immediate opposition. Graves had proposed demolishing the flanking brownstones down to the 74th Street corner for a complementary addition. After the project gradually lost the support of many of the museum’s trustees, the plans were dropped in 1989. Between 1995 and 1998, the building underwent a renovation and addition by Richard Gluckman. In 2001, Rem Koolhaas was commissioned to submit two designs for a $200 million expansion; plans were dropped again in 2003, causing director Maxwell L. Anderson to resign.
The Whitney is developing a new main building designed by Renzo Piano at the Meatpacking District in lower Manhattan. The new museum on Gansevoort Street will mark the southern entrance to the High Line (New York City) park. Construction began in 2010 and is expected to be completed by 2015.<ref name="cgraynyt"/> New York restaurateur, Danny Meyer opened Untitled, a restaurant in the museum in March 2011. The space is designed by the Rockwell Group The museum says it needs to raises $720 million for the 200,000 sqft meatpacking building. In May 2011 the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced it had entered into an agreement to occupy the Madison Avenue building for at least eight years starting in 2015 easing the Whitney of the burden of having to finance two large museums.
The museum displays paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, installation art, video, and photography. Every two years, the museum hosts the Whitney Biennial, an international art show which displays many lesser-known artists new to the American art scene.
The original 600 works in the permanent collection grew to about 1,300 by 1954 when the second Museum building opened, and to approximately 2,000 with the opening of the Breuer building in 1966. Today the permanent collection contains more than 18,000 works of art from many renowned artists. Artists represented include Josef Albers, Donald Baechler, Thomas Hart Benton, Lucile Blanch, Louise Bourgeois, Charles Burchfield, Alexander Calder, Greg Colson, Dan Christensen, Ronald Davis, Stuart Davis, Richard Diebenkorn, Arthur Dove, William Eggleston, Helen Frankenthaler, Arshile Gorky, Keith Haring, Grace Hartigan, Marsden Hartley, Robert Henri, Eva Hesse, Hans Hofmann, Edward Hopper, Jasper Johns, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Ronnie Landfield, John Marin, Knox Martin, John McCracken, John McLaughlin, Robert Motherwell, Bruce Nauman, Louise Nevelson, Barnett Newman, Kenneth Noland, Jackson Pollock, Maurice Prendergast, Kenneth Price, Robert Rauschenberg, Man Ray, Mark Rothko, Morgan Russell, Albert Pinkham Ryder, Cindy Sherman, John Sloan, Andy Warhol, and hundreds of others. A photography collection was begun in 1991.
In addition to its traditional collection the Whitney has a website, called Artport, that features "Net Art" that changes monthly.
Independent study program
In 1968, Ron Clark, at the age of 25, established in conjunction with the Whitney Museum of American Art an independent study program (known as the ISP or sometimes the Whitney ISP), which helped start the careers of artists, critics, and curators including Julian Schnabel, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Kathryn Bigelow, Roberta Smith, and Mai-Thu Perret, as well as many other well-known, influential cultural producers. The program includes separate art history and studio programs. The programs include Critical Studies, Curatorial Studies and the Studio Program for Artists. It is a one year program that includes many both visiting and hired influential artists, art historians, and critics and involves the reading of theory. Ron Clark remains director of the program.
- Jennifer Allora - 1998-1999
- Kathryn Bigelow - 1971
- Mark Dion - 1985
- Andrea Fraser - 1986
- Félix González-Torres - 1980, 1983
- Jenny Holzer - 1976
- Sarah Morris - 1989-1990
- Bettina Pousttchi - 1999-2000
- Julian Schnabel - 1973
- Katharina Sieverding - 1976
- Roberta Smith - 1969
- Rirkrit Tiravanija - 1986
As of 2011, the Whitney's endowment equaled $207 million. In 2008, Leonard A. Lauder gave the museum $131 million, the biggest donation in the Whitney’s history.
Its current director is Adam Weinberg (since 2003). Former directors include Maxwell L. Anderson (1998–2003), David A. Ross (1991–1997), Thomas Armstrong III (1974–1990), and Juliana Rieser Force (1931-1948).
Board of Trustees
- Leonard A. Lauder, Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Trustees
- Flora Miller Biddle, Honorary Chairman of the Board of Trustees
- Robert J. Hurst, Co-Chair of the Board of Trustees
- Brooke Garber Neidich, Co-Chair of the Board of Trustees
- Neil Bluhm, President of the Board of Trustees
- Adam D. Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney
- John Stanley, Chief Operating Officer
- List of museums and cultural institutions in New York City
- Whitney Biennial
- Briefly-Loved Things: reviewing the 2010 Whitney Biennial ArtsEditor.com
- Curatorial Charge: the 2008 Whitney Biennial: Part One ArtsEditor.com
- Time/Stop/Time: the 2008 Whitney Biennial: Part Two ArtsEditor.com
- Artport: Whitney Portal to Net Art
- Conservation Lab Interiors
- For Whitney, Downtown Is Its Crucible, The New York Times, 16 June 2010