The opening for Laura Poitras’s first solo museum exhibition gave me the opportunity to visit the Whitney, the “New Whitney” and only Whitney which relocated as of May 1, 2015 to a fabulous building designed by Renzo Piano in the Chelsea Meatpacking district of Manhattan. The former location on Madison and 75th Street housed the art collection that continues to focuses on 20th and 21st century American art.
The Whitney is at the southern entrance to the High Line, a 1.45-mile-long park built on an elevated section of a disused NY Central Railroad spur called the West Side Line. The park has over 5 million visitors annually who walk along enjoying the views of Manhattan, the Hudson River, sculpture and vegetation. The video I made can be seen at arttimesjournal.com and on the ART TIMES YouTube channel: http://bit.ly/1SyhZen
(click onto image for video)
The building reflects the Highline in the “industrial chic” design, the foliage beds and the external stairway and terraces that allow for wonderful views that include the Statue of Liberty, New Jersey shoreline, The West Side Highway, the High Line, the Freedom Tower, Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and The Hudson River. The day I was there was quite overcast but I can just imagine how gorgeous it would be on a clear and sunny day.
Laura Poitras is an artist, filmmaker and storyteller. The exhibit Astro Noise is comprised of an interrelated series of installations that incorporate documentary footage and primary documents that invite visitors to interact with the material and asks viewers to consider their position and responsibility in the “war on terror.”
An entire floor was devoted to Frank Stella’s retrospective (ended Feb 7) that had about 100 works including paintings, reliefs, sculptures, prints, drawings and maquettes. Another floor houses the Whitney’s collection and another, the Education Center with a theater and space for visitors of all ages to experience lectures, hands-on learning and additional programs every weekend.
The Whitney is committed to providing different opportunities for artists that other museums have given in the past. There is an 18,200 sq. ft. open space for “projects” that encompasses the entire fifth floor of the museum. Beginning in Feb through May 14, 2016 Open Plan, an experimental 5-part exhibition features 5 different artists each using the space for 3 weeks. Many more exhibits are scheduled including The Whitney Biennial that opens in Spring 2017. See whitney.org for specifics on this and other exhibits and programs.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art took over the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Marcel Breuer building after the Whitney opened its new museum in Manhattan’s meatpacking district. The agreement serves both institutions: allowing the Whitney to preserve the landmark Breuer building, at Madison and 75th Street, while providing the Met with much needed space to showcase its modern and contemporary art. The Met said they will use this space as an outpost for modern and contemporary art from around the globe and will be expanding to include a new series of exhibitions, performances, artist commissions, residencies, and educational initiatives. Opening to the public on March 18, 2016, The Met Breuer will provide additional space for the public to explore the Met’s collection of art of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
My friend Kathleen Arffmann, for 7 years Executive Director at the Salmagundi Club, 34 years as General Manager for Visitor’s Services at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and current Freelance Art Consultant Administration was with me at the Whitney and had this to say about the Met Breuer:
“Finally, the art that was made downtown has come home. It looks so much better in the downtown environment, instead of uptown, with all that Smoltz. Downtown was where the ideas came from. The culture was born there. Each time we went outside and saw what was left of the physical environment we brought it back inside with us and it fit !!! ”