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About the Collection

The Whitney’s collection includes over 22,000 works created by more than 3,000 artists in the United States during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. At its core are Museum founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s personal holdings, totaling some 600 works when the Museum opened in 1931. These works served as the basis for the founding collection, which Mrs. Whitney continued to add to throughout her lifetime. The founding collection reflects Mrs. Whitney’s ardent support of living American artists of the time, particularly younger or emerging ones, including Peggy Bacon, George Bellows, Stuart Davis, Charles Demuth, Mabel Dwight, Edward Hopper, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Reginald Marsh, and John Sloan. This focus on the contemporary, along with a deep respect for artists’ creative process and vision, has guided the Museum’s collecting ever since.

The collection begins with Ashcan School painting and follows the major movements of the twentieth century in America, with strengths in Modernism and Social Realism, Precisionism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Minimalism, Postminimalism, art centered on identity and politics that came to the fore in the 1980s and 1990s, and contemporary work. The Museum’s signature exhibition is its biennial (and annual, during certain periods) survey of contemporary art, which has always kept the focus on the present, in the spirit of its founder. The highlights of the collection are definitive examples of their type, but there is also much variety and originality in works by less well-known figures. The collection includes all mediums; over eighty percent is works on paper.

The Whitney has deep holdings of the work of certain key artists, spanning their careers and the mediums in which they worked, including Alexander Calder, Mabel Dwight, Jasper Johns, Glenn Ligon, Brice Marden, Reginald Marsh, Agnes Martin, Georgia O’Keeffe, Claes Oldenburg, Ed Ruscha, Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson, and David Wojnarowicz.

For questions or concerns about the Whitney's collection online, which is in beta form, please contact collectiononline@whitney.org; press queries should be directed to pressoffice@whitney.org.

Robert Henri (1865-1929), Laughing Child, 1907. Oil on canvas, 23 3/4 × 20 1/4 in. (60.3 × 51.4 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney  31.240
John Sloan (1871-1951), Backyards, Greenwich Village, 1914. Oil on canvas, 26 × 31 15/16 in. (66 × 81.1 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase  36.153  
© Estate of John Sloan
Marsden Hartley (1877-1943), Painting, Number 5, 1914-15. Oil on linen; 39 1/4 × 32 in. (99.7 × 81.3 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of an anonymous donor  58.65 
© Estate of Marsden Hartley
Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986), Music, Pink and Blue No. 2, 1918. Oil on canvas; 35 × 29 15/16 in. (88.9 × 76 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Emily Fisher Landau in honor of Tom Armstrong  91.90
© 2009 Georgia O’Keeffe Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Mabel Dwight, In the Crowd, 1931. Lithograph: image, 9 1/2 × 11 3/4 in. (24.1 × 29.8 cm) irregular; sheet, 11 5/16 × 15 13/16 in. (28.7 × 40.2 cm). Edition of 32. Printed by George C. Miller; published by Weyhe Gallery. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Print Committee  98.8.1
Paul Cadmus (1904-1999), Sailors and Floosies, 1938. Oil and tempera on linen mounted on composition board, with wood frame; 33 11/16 × 48 1/2 in. (85 9/16 × 123 3/16 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Malcolm S. Forbes  64.42a-b 
© Jon F. Anderson, Estate of Paul Cadmus / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Charles Demuth (1883-1935), My Egypt, 1927. Oil on fiberboard, 35 3/4 × 30 in. (90.8 × 76.2 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney  31.172
Elsie Driggs (1895-1992), Pittsburgh, 1927. Oil on canvas, 34 1/4 × 40 1/4 in. (87 × 102.2 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gift of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney  31.177
Willem de Kooning, Woman and Bicycle, 1952–53. Oil on canvas, 76 1/2 × 49 in. (194.3 × 124.5 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase  55.35
© 2009 The Willem de Kooning Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Lee Krasner, The Seasons, 1957. Oil on canvas, 92 3/4 × 203 3/4 in. (235.59 × 517.53 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from Frances and Sydney Lewis (by exchange), the Mrs. Percy Uris Purchase Fund and the Painting and Sculpture Committee  87.7
© 2011 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Edward Ruscha, Large Trademark with Eight Spotlights, 1962. Oil on canvas, 66 3/4 × 133 1/4 in. (169.6 × 338.5 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Mrs. Percy Uris Purchase Fund  85.41
© Ed Ruscha
Andy Warhol, Green Coca-Cola Bottles, 1962. Synthetic polymer, silkscreen ink, and graphite on canvas, 82 3/8 × 57 in. (209.2 × 144.8 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Friends of the Whitney Museum of American Art  68.25
© 2009 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Registered Trademark, The Coca Cola Company. All rights reserved.
Tony Smith, Die, 1962. Steel, 72 3/8 × 72 3/8 × 72 3/8 in. (183.8 × 183.8 × 183.8 cm). Edition no. 3. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Louis and Bessie Adler Foundation Inc., James Block, The Sondra and Charles Gilman Jr. Foundation Inc., Penny and Mike Winton, and the Painting and Sculpture Committee  89.6. © 2009 Estate of Tony Smith / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Robert Morris, Untitled (3 Ls), 1965 (refabricated 1970) (installation view, Art in Place: Fifteen Years of Acquisitions, Whitney Museum of American Art, 1989). Stainless steel in three parts, dimensions variable. Edition of 3. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Howard and Jean Lipman  76.29a-c
© 2009 Robert Morris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Jackie Winsor, Bound Logs, 1972–73. Wood and hemp, 114 × 29 × 18 in. (289.6 × 73.7 × 45.7 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Howard and Jean Lipman Foundation Inc.  74.53. © 1973 Jackie Winsor
Laurie Simmons, Walking Camera II (Jimmy the Camera), 1987. Gelatin silver print, 82 13/16 × 47 1/2 in. (210.3 × 120.7 cm). Edition of 5. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Photography Committee  94.107  Video
© 1987 Laurie Simmons
Martin Wong, Big Heat, 1988. Synthetic polymer on canvas, 60 1/8 × 48 in. (152.7 × 121.9 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Painting and Sculpture Committee  99.89. Courtesy of The Estate of Martin Wong and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York, NY
Eva Hesse, No title, 1970. Latex, rope, string, and wire, dimensions variable. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from Eli and Edythe L. Broad, the Mrs. Percy Uris Purchase Fund, and the Painting and Sculpture Committee  88.17a-b
© The Estate of Eva Hesse. Hauser & Wirth; photograph by Sheldan C. Collins
Fred Wilson, Guarded View, 1991. Wood, paint, steel, and fabric, dimensions variable. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of the Peter Norton Family Foundation  97.84a-d
© Fred Wilson
Nan Goldin, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, 1979–96 (detail). Nine-carousel projection with approximately 700 slides, soundtrack, and titles, dimensions variable. Edition no. 1/10. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from The Charles Engelhard Foundation, the Mrs. Percy Uris Bequest, the Painting and Sculpture Committee, and the Photography Committee  92.127
© Nan Goldin
Rachel Harrison (b. 1966), Claude Levi-Strauss, 2007. Wood, chicken wire, polystyrene, cement, acrylic, taxidermically preserved silver-laced Wyandotte hen and Black Minorca rooster with attached label and mount, USPS Priority Mail cardboard box, and Sharp UX-B20 Fax machine cardboard box; 67 × 82 × 25 in. (170.2 × 208.3 × 63.5 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from Warren and Allison Kanders  2008.15a-f
Dana Schutz (b. 1976), Building the Boat While Sailing, 2012. Ink on paper, 72 1/8 × 96 in. (183.2 × 243.8 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Drawing Committee  2013.33
© Dana Schutz
Mark Bradford (b. 1961), Bread and Circuses, 2007. Found paper, metal foil, acrylic, and plastic on canvas; 134 1/4 × 253 1/2 in. (341 × 643.9 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from Patrick and Mary Scanlan  2008.42
© Mark Bradford
Wade Guyton (b. 1972), Untitled, 2009. Epson UltraChrome inkjet on linen, 84 1/16 × 69 1/16 in. (213.5 × 175.4 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of the artist in honor of Scott Rothkopf  2013.26
© Wade Guyton