Sunday, 9 August 2015

Postcard from New York, 1: Whitney Museum of American Art (+ The High Line)

Renzo Piano Building Workshop, The Whitney Museum, 2007-15
The Whitney Museum of American Art opened in its current location at 99 Gansevoort Street on 1 May 2015 so it was a thrill to visit it while it is still so fresh. The building, by Renzo Piano, is impressive (although quite hard to 'see' from the ground) and the galleries with their external sculpture terraces and 'lounges' offering spectacular views across the city and across the Hudson to New Jersey are wonderful. (I was glad to learn that the, also wonderful, old Whitney building by Marcel Breuer is, apparently, to become an outpost of the Metropolitan Museum.)
Marcel Breuer, Whitney Museum, 1966
We approached the Whitney via the High Line walking from 23rd Street to Gansevoort Street. This was a delight: a relaxed stroll along a plant-lined, elevated former railway track offering great views down into, and over, the streets and punctuated with artworks. I was disappointed that Edward Ruscha's mural had been replaced but enjoyed Ryan Gander's 'kissing' fountain and Damián Ortega's three-dimensional graffiti amongst others.
View along the High Line
Ryan Gander, To employ the mistress... It's a French toff thing
Damián Ortega, Physical Graffiti
The inaugural exhibition at the Whitney, America is Hard to See, is drawn entirely from the museum's collection and is arranged chronologically in a series of 'chapters' from the eighth floor down. We began by ascending in the lift to the top floor then worked downwards via the external staircases which take in the sculpture terraces. The exhibition is fabulous - below is my top ten selection  (in alphabetical order of artist):
Margaret Bourke-White, George Washington Bridge, c1934
Vija Celmins, Heater, 1964
Willem de Kooning, Door to the River, 1960
Charles Demuth, My Egypt, 1927
Arshile Gorky,  the Artist and His Mother, 1926-c1936
Edward Hopper, Early Sunday Morning, 1930
John McCracken, Violet Block in Two Parts, 1966 (floor) and Brice Marden, Summer Table, 1972-3 (wall)
Frank Stella, Die Fahne hoch!, 1959
Wayne Thiebaud, Pie Counter, 1963
And a couple of views of, and from, the museum:
Looking down to the sculpture terrace on floor 7 with work by David Smith
Looking down to the sculpture terrace on floor 6 with work by Robert Morris and Tony Smith
Mary Heilmann, Sunset (detail) on north wall of Museum above terrace on floor 5
View west from one of the museum's windows
Jonathan Massey (2015) "High Line Your Museum", Art in America, May 2015, pp110-117
Timothy M. Rohan (2015) "The Breuer Effect", Art in America, May 2015 

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