Arts Coverage and Review

June 26, 2017

Whitney on the Hudson… or WOTH for Short

Shrimp Peels & Hair

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Can I get a hallelujah and A-to-the-MEN as the new Whitney Museum has finally arrived!  The gleaming industrial strength building is located on Chelsea’s Gansevoort St. and designed by the Italian Pritzker Prize starchitect Renzo Piano.  Location. Location. Location.  Such a smart strategy for the Whitney to return to its downtown roots, this time at the uber Meat-Packing district sans the seedy grit and grunge of yesteryear. There’s no doubt the new address will invigorate the museum’s foot traffic and destined to become a must-see museum attraction that could translate into newbies to the contemporary art world. And, the good news is that it’s just cobblestones away from fancy boutique hotels, shopping, dining, and of course, the High Line — need i say more.  Okay I’ll add one more,  the Apple store is a few blocks away to charge up your iPhone (which I had to do after taking a gazillion pix of the museum).

Whitney Museum of American Art.  Photo Credit:  Nic Lehoux

Whitney Museum of American Art.
Photo Credit: Nic Lehoux

Upper floor view ....Mary Heilman Chairs

Upper floor view ….Mary Heilman Chairs

Since acronyms are the way to go (e.g. MOMA, MOCA LA, etc.), let’s just refer to the new museum as “WOTH” as in Whitney on the Hudson. From my observations, this is a major museum milestone, of which other institutions are side-balling is successful debut.

 

Claes Oldenberg and Alex Katz. Photo Credit: Shrimp Peels & Hair

Claes Oldenberg and Alex Katz.
Photo Credit: Shrimp Peels & Hair

An early Vija Celmins... Photo Credit: Tony Mangle, Shrimp Peels & Hair

An early Vija Celmins…
Photo Credit: Tony Mangle, Shrimp Peels & Hair

Lee Krasner "The Seasons"  Photo Credit: Tony Mangle Shrimp Peels & Hair

Lee Krasner “The Seasons” Photo Credit: Tony Mangle Shrimp Peels & Hair

The galleries are generously spacious, and based on the ceiling grids, it looks as though the rooms can be reconfigured to accommodate more intimate sections (like the placement of Calder’s “Circus” sculpture)  to wide-open galleries for major sculptures, installs, (like Lee Krasner’s monstrous “The Seasons” painting).

I also took note of the foot-friendly wooden floors which was easy on the feet and relatively soft-sounding in spite of the large crowds…come to think of it, it totally makes sense given Whitney’s performance art programs.

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Larry Bell... Photo Credit: Tony Mangle, Shrimp Peels & Hair

Larry Bell…
Photo Credit: Tony Mangle, Shrimp Peels & Hair

But the biggest take-away is the magnificent alfresco panoramic view from the various floors. Such a sweet treat to give your eyes a time out from the artwork and breath the fresh air, relax and contemplate among the outdoor sculptures, as well as take in the sites of the High Line, West Side highway, neighboring roof tops, the gigantic water tower, NY skylines, and just around the bend the motion of the Hudson River. Think cruise ship….oh heck even Hoboken across the river is a wonderful view.

 

Rooftop contemplation at the Whitney.   Photo Credit: Shrimp Peels & Hair

Rooftop contemplation at the Whitney.
Photo Credit: Shrimp Peels & Hair

Whitney al fresco Photo Credit: Shrimp Peels & Hair

Whitney al fresco
Photo Credit: Shrimp Peels & Hair

....like Hitchcock's Rear Window, except with reflections of Heilman chairs Photo Credit: Tony Mangle, Shrimp Peels & Hair

….like Hitchcock’s Rear Window, except with reflections of Heilman chairs
Photo Credit: Tony Mangle, Shrimp Peels & Hair

...I believe the sculpture is Serra.   Photo Credit: Tony Mangle, Shrimp Peels & Hair

…I believe the sculpture is Serra.
Photo Credit: Tony Mangle, Shrimp Peels & Hair

According to the release…

Designed by architect Renzo Piano, the new building includes approximately 50,000 square feet of indoor galleries and 13,000 square feet of outdoor exhibition space and terraces facing the High Line. An expansive gallery for special exhibitions is approximately 18,000 square feet in area, making it the largest column-free museum gallery in New York City. Additional exhibition space includes a lobby gallery (accessible free of charge), two floors for the permanent collection, and a special exhibitions gallery on the top floor.

 

Carroll Dunham in the background.... Photo Credit: Tony Mangle Shrimp Peels & Hair

Carroll Dunham in the background….
Photo Credit: Tony Mangle Shrimp Peels & Hair

Basquiat.... Photo Credit: Tony Mangle, Shrimp Peels & Hair

Basquiat….
Photo Credit: Tony Mangle, Shrimp Peels & Hair

According to Mr. Piano, “The design for the new museum emerges equally from a close study of the Whitney’s needs and from a response to this remarkable site. We wanted to draw on its vitality and at the same time enhance its rich character. The first big gesture, then, is the cantilevered entrance, which transforms the area outside the building into a large, sheltered public space. At this gathering place beneath the High Line, visitors will see through the building entrance and the large windows on the west side to the Hudson River beyond. Here, all at once, you have the water, the park, the powerful industrial structures and the exciting mix of people, brought together and focused by this new building and the experience of art.” More

 

Felix Gonzalex-Torres.... Photo Credit: Tony Mangle, Shrimp Peels & Hair

Felix Gonzalex-Torres….
Photo Credit: Tony Mangle, Shrimp Peels & Hair

Resting stations at the Whitney Photo Credit: Tony Mangle, Shrimp Peels & Hair

Resting stations at the Whitney
Photo Credit: Tony Mangle, Shrimp Peels & Hair

Alexander Calder's Circus in front of George Bellows' Dempsey &  Firpo Photo Credit: Tony Mangle, Shrimp Peels & Hair

Alexander Calder’s Circus in front of George Bellows’ Dempsey & Firpo
Photo Credit: Tony Mangle, Shrimp Peels & Hair

Photo Credit: Shrimp Peels & Hair

Photo Credit: Shrimp Peels & Hair

In my mind…aside from the inaugural show, “America is Hard To See” WOTH’s building design and views alone are worth the $22 admission.  I can’t wait to see how the next Biennial will be laid out, as well as future exhibitions including abstract artist Carmen Herrera.  Hats off to the WOTH!

 

Whitney's Adam Weinberg

Whitney’s Adam Weinberg

Video: Click here for Adam Weinberg’s interview.

 About the Whitney

The Whitney Museum of American Art, founded in 1930 by the artist and philanthropist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (1875−1942), houses the foremost collection of American art from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Mrs. Whitney, an early and ardent supporter of modern American art, nurtured groundbreaking artists at a time when audiences were still largely preoccupied with the Old Masters. From her vision arose the Whitney Museum of American Art, which has been championing the most innovative art of the United States for more than eighty years. The core of the Whitney’s mission is to collect, preserve, interpret, and exhibit American art of our time and serve a wide variety of audiences in celebration of the complexity and diversity of art and culture in the United States. Through this mission and a steadfast commitment to artists themselves, the Whitney has long been a powerful force in support of modern and contemporary art and continues to help define what is innovative and influential in American art today.

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