Whitney Museum of American Art - NYC, U.S.A.
Rising above Manhattan’s Meatpacking District in a succession of glass and metal stair steps is the fresh-faced Whitney Museum of American Art, newly installed in Lower Manhattan. Known as “the Whitney” among the art circle, the museum was founded in the gilded age by New York socialite and art patron Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. For close to fifty years, the Whitney was located in Manhattan’s Upper East Side before relocating to its downtown home in 2015. The new structure, imagined by Renzo Piano, angles over the High Line, asserting its position among the rooftops and skyscrapers, and affording a sweeping view of Manhattan and the Hudson River from its many terraces.
Art seems to spill out of the museum — from the sturdy sculptures on the terraces to the enchanting light installation in the winding staircase. The permanent collection now contains more than 21,000 works of 20th-century and contemporary American art, with an emphasis on new and evolving media from the most talented living artists.
Large elevators take groups from the lobby to the top floor, on which is found an exhibition hall that in January contained a beautiful collection of works by Archibald Motley, including his intimate portraits and scenes of street life from Paris, Chicago, New York, and Mexico. One floor down is the Whitney’s permanent collection, housing works from Jackson Pollock, Georgia O’Keeffe, Man Ray, and Edward Hopper among others. Museum-goers ponder the silver, ochre, pink, and bronze marks racing across the black puddles of Pollock’s Number 27, 1950. Other favourite paintings include the colourful and whimsical abstract Blue Form in a Scene by Helen Frankenthaler, and the ominous Seven A.M. by Edward Hopper, showing a somewhat unsettling storefront, appearing desolate and empty in the early morning light.
Jeff Koons’ painted wood Poodle sculpture is displayed on the sixth floor, part of an exhibition of works collected by Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner that will be at the Whitney through March 6. The collectors recently donated a large portion of their accumulated works to the Whitney and the Centre Pompidou Foundation, examining European contemporary art alongside the American counterpart.
The Whitney’s past exhibitions include its famous Biennials, showcasing curated work produced in the preceding two years by contemporary American artists. The Biennial was introduced by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1932 to survey the latest developments in American art among younger and less well-known artists.
With its thumb firmly on the pulsing heart of contemporary American art, the Whitney is poised to become a community fixture in its new Lower Manhattan location. A fine dining restaurant by the Danny Meyer group, cheekily named Untitled, is helmed by Chef Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern fame. Well-heeled residents of Chelsea and Greenwich village crowd the bar each night for cocktails and beautifully presented small plates, and the peanut butter and blueberry crunch cake has already developed a cult following. But museum-goers will likely opt for Meyer’s casual Studio Cafe on the top floor of the museum. The cafe offers lighter fare like fresh salads, soups, and toasts, along with an excellent selection of wines. With seating available on the terrace in warmer months, the cafe is the perfect spot to unwind after hours wandering the galleries, with a terrific view of Lower Manhattan to boot.
Whitney Museum of American Art | Museum exclusively featuring 20th-century & contemporary art by American artists, most still living. | 99 Gansevoort St, New York, NY 10014, United States | Mon, Wed, Thurs, Sun 10:30am - 6pm / Fri - Sat 10:30am - 10pm / Tuesdays Closed Tlf: (212) 570-3600 | www.whitney.org |
Images © Emma Stencil
A few years ago Emma was traveling in Europe, when in early 2015 she traded Parisian cafés and marchés for the New York dollar-slice. 2016 has set Emma on another venture in Europe. Emma works in travel PR and writes about food, wine, and destinations. Find her brunch recommendations at www.goodbrunch.wordpress.com