Wednesday 9 May 2012

Whitney Museum of American Art

Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Avenue, designed in 1966 by Marcel Breuer. Incorporating some of the best designed exhibition space in the city, with intelligent, challenging shows. It is most famous for its Biennial, which was first held in 1932 and continues in the spring every other year, designed to give a provocative overview of what new is happening in American Art.

We visited during the Biennial, which was a good thing, but what that meant was that all the art works of  their permanent collection, which include all the greats of 20th century American art and particularly paintings by Edward Hopper (2000 of his works were bequeathed to the Whitney) were not on show, which is a very bad thing. 


This is the entrance and bookshop space.

In this post I want to concentrate on the exhibits on the 5th floor which are part of the Whitney's permanent collection, exhibited to complement the Biennial.

Agnes Martin

A whole room dedicated to the canvases of Agnes Martin's The Islands - a single work in twelve parts, with all the canvases having her usual 6 foot square format. The effects of light prevail over spatial determinations. They are all unified by a matte-white tone, each picture is slightly differentiated from the others by a barely discernible tint of green or yellow so that as Heinz Liesbrock notes: "although the coloration of the pictures in the group is closely related, no single one is identical in tone with any other".


The islands, 1961

The Islands

"My paintings have neither object nor space nor line nor anything - no forms. They are light, lightness, about merging, about formlessness, breaking down forms".

Milk River, 1963

(We were not allowed to photograph, so the above have been downloaded)

The Seasons, Lee Krasner, 1957.

This exuberant, vibrant painting was created in deepest sorrow. Her husband, Jackson Pollock had just died when she painted this, a time when she had to remember to do two things: "to breathe and to be alive".

Eva Hesse, Untitled, 1970 (latex, rope, string and wire)

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