by Genna Rivieccio
The Whitney Museum’s transference to the Meatpacking District from its original uptown location at Madison and 75th signals a number of momentous events. 1) The Whitney is continuing to prove that it is at the forefront of modernism and progressiveness in the art world, and 2) All the rich people now live downtown as opposed to uptown.
Its first weekend open did not fail to draw in the art-loving masses–though, in general, what people love about art now is taking their picture in front of it. Although the museum was open on Friday, May 1st, a block party on Saturday helped entertain those wrapped around the Gansevoort Street vicinity waiting to gain entrance into the overflowing edifice.
The building itself is as much a work of art as the paintings and sculptures contained within it. Designed by influential and quite possibly best living architect Renzo Piano, the lightness and functionality of the structure becomes an integral part of the experience once inside. Unlike any other museum in the city, accessing the different floors can be done via both indoor or outdoor staircases. Balconies on each floor also add to the enjoyment and absorption of the art and city.
The eight-floor structure is chock full of the best of the best in American art, with offerings from Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jeff Koons and Man Ray being just some of the most iconic. The current exhibition, America Is Hard to See (taken from a Robert Frost poem of the same name), is a prime example of why the Whitney has remained a formidable contender against long-established New York museums such as the Met. Exploring the notion that American art is too indefinable to be defined, we’re given numerous instances of the varied nature of American artistic output, Joseph Stella being among one of the representations of this fact.
The concise organization of eras and themes are part of what makes viewing the collection at the Whitney so engaging. While one room centers around the political art of the 1970s, another highlights the art of propaganda during the Great Depression. The evolution of the subject matter prevalent in artwork by decade is a strong indication of our nation’s decay in a post-Golden Age world (said Golden Age being primarily the 1940s, 1950s and early and mid-1960s).
Reagan “killed” a lot of people in the 80s
Basquiat’s “Hollywood Africans”
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Just another faceless suburban family
Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s vision of promoting new and relevant artists has continued to result in one of the most important museums in the world. With its over 20,000 works of art, the new Whitney is the very embodiment of sensory overload, which is, of course, what Americans are all about.