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A Tour of the New Whitney with the Museum’s Curators

New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday     Second in a Series on the New Whitney

Re-Blogged from ARTSY EDITORIAL APR 23RD, 2015 10:00 AM
 Elisabeth Sherman Senior Curatorial Assistant | Sixth Floor Terrace 
Photo by Emily Johnston for Artsy.

“The gallery spaces allow us a level of flexibility that we had to some degree in Breuer, but that we’ll have much more of in the Piano building—the amount of column-free square footage that we have here is unprecedented. The way that everything was designed, from the ceiling grids to the flooring choices, allows us to really let artists run wild. Or, when they don’t want to, when it’s more traditional or quiet work, there are incredibly elegant, proportional spaces that respect that type of work, too. I’m particularly excited about the light, and the interaction between the galleries and the exterior, which really manifests itself in the terraces, and having this outdoor space, both for permanent sculptures and performances—and other more spontaneous activity.

Photos by Emily Johnston for Artsy.I’m working on an exhibition of the collection of Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner, which will open this November on the sixth floor. Thea and Ethan are giving the museum around 500 works of art. They’re also giving the Pompidou in Paris about 300 works of art. Together with the Pompidou, we’re doing an exhibition and catalog documenting this gift, beginning with the very late ’70s and early ’80s—with important artists like Christopher Wool, Jeff Koons, Robert Gober,Cindy Sherman—and bringing real masterpieces into our collection. It continues up to this very moment and augments our collection of work from the 2000s in a way that really is transformative.”

Carter Foster Steven and Ann Ames Curator of Drawing | Seventh Floor Galleries 

Photo by Emily Johnston for Artsy.

“Although I’m not as directly involved in it as my colleague Jay Sanders, the theater is an amazing space. We’ve never had anything like it. I’m so excited to see the performances that will happen there. We also have a works-on-paper study center—which we’ve also never had before—which means that artists and qualified researchers can look at our print, drawing, and photography collection and have access to it for the first time ever, really, in an easy way. We can store about 80% of our works-on-paper collection, and I think we have a total of about 18,000.

We’re doing an exhibition on a Harlem Renaissance painter, named Archibald Motley, in October. He was working in the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s especially—that was sort of his heyday—doing scenes of African American life in Chicago. Really fantastic, beautiful modernist paintings. That’s going to be on the eighth floor, in our skylit galleries. We’re very excited about that.”

Jay Sanders & Greta Hartenstein- Curator and Curator of Performance; Curatorial Assistant | Theater Projection Box, Fourth Floor

Photo by Emily Johnston for Artsy.
The first performance project that we’re doing is with the artist Yuji Agematsu. We commissioned him to take a portrait of the neighborhood and the changing site of the museum as it was built, as well as the Meatpacking district and the Highline and Hudson Yards area. So he walked around for over six months, starting last summer, taking photos of the street, of flowers, of the building, of fences, the water, but no people. His work will be displayed via 10 slide projectors throughout the space, mapping the city around us onto the theater. He’ll also create sound improvisations, so it will be performance too.” —Greta Hartenstein

Laura Phipps –  Senior Curatorial Assistant | Fifth Floor Galleries

Photo by Emily Johnston for Artsy.

“Seeing the first project that we’re doing with Mary Heilmann come to life really activates our imagination about what can be done with the outdoor spaces. It’s an exhibition with three components. The first is two large, bright pink vinyl panels, based on the geometry that Mary uses in her paintings, which have been installed on the side of the building. They echo the stairstep outline of the museum, which is an element that was already in Mary’s paintings. Then there are the chairs, which are also often a feature of Mary’s exhibitions, located on the terrace on the fifth floor. The other really exciting component is a film that she made in 1982, shot in this neighborhood and further south in TriBeCa. It’s the first time it has ever been seen. It is like a record of the neighborhood, and a record of how artists lived here—and the work Mary was doing at the time.

—Tess Thackara

Explore the Whitney Museum’s inaugural exhibition, “America is Hard to See,” on view May 1–Sep. 27, 2015. 

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