Whitney Museum of Art

Topics: Contemporary art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Whitney Biennial Pages: 3 (1179 words) Published: May 5, 2005
The Whitney Museum of American Art has often been referred to a citadel of American Art, partially due to the museums façade, a striking granite building (Figure 1), designed by Bauhaus trained architect Marcel Breuer. The museum perpetuates this reference through its biennial review of contemporary American Art, which the Whitney has become most famous for. The biennial has become since its inception a measure of the state of contemporary art in America today. Since the Museum's opening in 1931, the collection has grown to more than 12,000 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, and photographs, representing nearly 2,000 individual artists and providing the most complete overview of twentieth-century American art of any museum in the world. The collection is also recognized for its in-depth commitment to a number of key artists. From the first half of the century, such seminal figures as Edward Hopper, Alexander Calder, Reginald Marsh, and Stuart Davis are richly represented. In the latter half of the century, the Museum has committed considerable resources toward acquiring a large body of works by Louise Nevelson, Agnes Martin, Claes Oldenburg, Alex Katz, Ad Reinhardt, and others. The Museum's recent decision to dedicate two entire floors to the display of the Permanent Collection reaffirms the collection's central role in the Whitney Museum experience. This reflects the Whitney's desire to remain as an authority on Contemporary American Art by devoting the remaining floors to changing shows, such as the recent Cy Twombly exhibition (Figure 2) and Tim Hawkinson's first major in depth museum retrospective. The Whitney Biennial held its first show in 1932, by the 1960's the biennial is quoted by Therese Schwartz in Nirvana Takes a Holiday as, "…the heaven on earth an artist could enter, after which would follow fame, possibly fortune, and a secure place among the angels." Of course here she is exaggerating to accentuate her point on the importance of the...
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