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Performance

Upcoming Performances

 
Image courtesy Ariana Reines
Free Events
11:45 PM
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Funding for the Whitney’s Performance Program is provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, and the Performance Committee of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

History of Performance at the Whitney

Early performances

The Whitney’s vibrant, long-standing history of performing arts can be traced to museum founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. She played a critical role in the experimental music circles of the 1920s, actively supporting such musical pioneers as Edgard Varèse, Carl Ruggles, and Carlos Salzedo, and their International Composers’ Guild. Her influence could still be felt when the Whitney first formally began presenting music in its galleries in the 1960s. Far from viewing these events as a departure from its fields of activity in the visual arts, the Museum embraced performance in its many iterations—including music, dance, theatre, multimedia, and other cross-genre work—as an integral part of its mandate to nurture and support American artists, and to commission and present new work. This pioneering approach was evident in the Museum’s initial series, which showcased experimental jazz composers and included performances by innovators such as Gil Evans, Jimmy Giuffre, and the Modern Jazz Quartet. 

By the 1970s, the Whitney regularly held a full range of performing arts events in the second floor gallery of the Breuer Building. Performers included Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Cecil Taylor, Aaron Copland, Steve Reich, John Cage, Duke Ellington, Eubie Blake, Meredith Monk, Terry Reilly, Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass, and many others. Particularly memorable were the performances by Trisha Brown, whose dance troupe walked on the gallery walls, and Duke Ellington, whose final piano recital was captured in the recording Duke Ellington Live at the Whitney.

Performance on 42nd

In the 1970s and ‘80s, the Whitney opened several branch locations in Lower Manhattan, Midtown, and Stamford, Connecticut. In the 1980s, the performing arts program migrated from the Breuer Building to the longest running of the branches, the Whitney Museum of American Art at Altria (formerly known as Philip Morris Companies) on 42nd Street, directly across from Grand Central Station.

In the hundreds of performances that took place at Whitney at Altria, artists working in music, dance, performance art, theater, and the realms in between, produced large-scale, fully staged work. Located at a dense urban intersection, the glass-enclosed public space, essentially the lobby of a corporate office building, encouraged interaction with passers-by, tourists, and commuters during both rehearsals and performances.

For the length of its existence, Performance on 42nd assumed a significant presence in the New York City performing arts landscape. Performances were free of charge and featured emerging artists, multidisciplinary programs and many new and commissioned works and works-in-progress. A short list of performers includes Joan Jonas, John Zorn, Olu Dara and the Okra Orchestra, Wendy Perron Dance Company, The Wooster Group, Christian Marclay, Savion Glover, DJ Olive, Stephen Vitiello, Dean Moss, Ethel, Cynthia Hopkins, Lisa D’Amour & Katie Pearl, Todd Reynolds, Phil Kline, Liza Jessie Peterson, nicholasleichterdance, Praxis Studio, and Judith Sanchez Ruiz.

The Altria branch closed in January 2008 after twenty-five years in operation. The final performance, on May 4, 2007, featured Electric Kompany, Margaret Lancaster, the Meehan-Perkins Percussion Duo, and Kathleen Supove as part of a three-day festival of work by Dutch composer JacobTV.

Whitney Live

Launched in October 2006, Whitney Live represented the next stage in the museum’s commitment to the performing arts: a series highlighting the intersection of performance and installation. The inaugural event, Steve Reich @ the Whitney, reprised and reinvented the presence of music in the Breuer Building. Reich arranged the instruments, equipment, and musicians as they would be in a gallery rather than a concert hall; visitors were invited to enter the space, wander around at will, and stay for some of the music, experiencing the entire installation up-close. The end result was more environmental sound sculpture than concert. The performance also underscored the museum’s extraordinary history with Reich, which stretches back to his participation, along with twenty-two other artists including Philip Glass, Carl Andre, and Richard Serra, in the 1969 exhibition Anti-Illusion: Procedures/Materials.

Past Performances

2014
Sun, Sept 14
8 PM
2014
Sun, May 25
2014
Fri, May 23
7 PM
2014
Sat, May 17
3 PM
2014
Sat, May 3
8–9 PM
2014
Sun, Apr 20
2014
Sun, Mar 23
4:30 PM
2014
Sun, Feb 2
2 PM
2013
Fri, Oct 18, 2013
2013
Thurs, June 20, 2013
8 PM
2013
Fri, June 7, 2013
6:30–8:30 PM
2013
Thurs, June 6, 2013
12 PM
2013
Sun, Apr 28, 2013
4 PM
2013
Fri, Apr 26, 2013
7 PM
2013
Sun, Apr 14, 2013
2 PM
2013
Sat, Apr 6, 2013
11 AM–6 PM
2013
Fri, Apr 5, 2013
6–9 PM
2013
Fri, Mar 29, 2013
6:30 PM
2013
Fri, Mar 22, 2013
6:30 PM
2013
Fri, Mar 15, 2013
6 PM
2013
Sat, Feb 23, 2013
8–9 PM
2013
Fri, Feb 1, 2013
6:30 PM
2012
Fri, Nov 30, 2012
6–9 PM
2012
Sun, June 3, 2012
4 PM
2012
Sun, May 27, 2012
1 PM
2012
Sun, May 27, 2012
12–5 PM
2012
Fri, May 25, 2012
7 PM
2012
Sun, May 20, 2012
5 PM
2012
Sat, May 19, 2012
4 PM
2012
Sat, May 19, 2012
11 AM–3 PM
2012
Sun, May 13, 2012
11 AM–6 PM
2012
Sun, May 6, 2012
4:30–5:45 PM
2012
Sun, May 6, 2012
11 AM–2 PM
2012
Sat, May 5, 2012
5–5:45 PM
2012
Sat, May 5, 2012
4–4:30 PM
2012
Sat, May 5, 2012
2:30–3:30 PM
2012
Sat, May 5, 2012
11 AM–2 PM
2012
Fri, May 4, 2012
7:45–8:30 PM
2012
Fri, May 4, 2012
6–7 PM
2012
Thurs, May 3, 2012
4–5:30 PM
2012
Thurs, May 3, 2012
2:30–3:15 PM
2012
Wed, May 2, 2012
2:30–4 PM
2012
Wed, May 2, 2012
11 AM–1:45 PM
2012
Sun, Apr 29, 2012
2:45–6 PM
2012
Fri, Apr 27, 2012
7:30 PM
2012
Sun, Apr 22, 2012
11 AM–6 PM
2012
Sat, Apr 21, 2012
4:30 PM
2012
Sat, Apr 14, 2012
4:30 PM
2012
Fri, Apr 13, 2012
7:30 PM
2012
Sun, Apr 8, 2012
4 PM
2012
Sun, Apr 8, 2012
11 AM–2 PM
2012
Sun, Mar 11, 2012
4 PM
2012
Sun, Mar 11, 2012
11 AM–2 PM
2012
Wed, Mar 7, 2012
4 PM
2011
Fri, Oct 21, 2011
8 PM
2011
Sun, Oct 9, 2011
5 PM
2011
Sat, May 21, 2011
12 PM
2010
Sun, Sept 26, 2010
5 PM
2010
Sun, Sept 26, 2010
4 PM
2010
Sun, Sept 26, 2010
3 PM
2010
Sat, Sept 25, 2010
2:30 PM
2010
Fri, Sept 24, 2010
2 PM
2010
Thurs, Sept 23, 2010
4:30 PM
2010
Thurs, Sept 23, 2010
11:30 AM
2010
Wed, Sept 22, 2010
11:30 AM
2010
Sat, Sept 18, 2010
2:30 PM
2010
Fri, Sept 17, 2010
7 PM
2010
Wed, Sept 15, 2010
4:30 PM
2010
Sun, Sept 5, 2010
2:30 PM
2010
Fri, Sept 3, 2010
7 PM
2010
Thurs, Sept 2, 2010
4:30 PM
2010
Fri, Aug 27, 2010
7 PM
2010
Thurs, Aug 26, 2010
1 PM
2010
Sun, Aug 22, 2010
12:30 PM
2010
Sat, Aug 21, 2010
4 PM
2010
Fri, Aug 20, 2010
7 PM
2010
Sun, Aug 15, 2010
4:30 PM
2010
Fri, Aug 13, 2010
7 PM
2010
Thurs, Aug 12, 2010
1 PM
2010
Wed, Aug 11, 2010
1 PM
2010
Sun, Aug 8, 2010
4 PM
2010
Sun, Aug 8, 2010
11 AM
2010
Sat, Aug 7, 2010
1 PM
2010
Fri, Aug 6, 2010
2 PM
2010
Wed, Aug 4, 2010
4 PM
2010
Sun, July 25, 2010
4 PM
2010
Sat, July 24, 2010
4 PM
2010
Fri, July 23, 2010
7 PM
2010
Sun, July 18, 2010
4 PM
2010
Fri, July 16, 2010
8 PM
2010
Thurs, July 15, 2010
1 PM
2010
Sun, July 11, 2010
11:15 AM
2010
Fri, July 2, 2010
7 PM
2010
Fri, July 2, 2010
4 PM
2010
Thurs, July 1, 2010
2:30 PM
2010
Tues, June 15, 2010
7–8:30 PM
2010
Sat, June 5, 2010
12–2 PM
2010
Sat, May 29, 2010
4 PM
2010
Fri, May 28, 2010
7:30 PM
2010
Fri, May 28, 2010
11 AM
2010
Fri, May 21, 2010
6:30 PM
2010
Fri, May 14, 2010
6:30 PM
2010
Wed, May 12, 2010–Sun, May 23, 2010
2010
Fri, May 7, 2010
7:30 PM
2010
Fri, May 7, 2010
6:30 PM
2010
Fri, May 7, 2010–Sun, May 9, 2010
2010
Wed, May 5, 2010
4 PM
2010
Fri, Apr 30, 2010
7:30 PM
2010
Fri, Apr 30, 2010
6:30 PM
2010
Fri, Apr 23, 2010
7:30 PM
2010
Fri, Apr 23, 2010
6:30 PM
2010
Wed, Apr 21, 2010–Sat, May 1, 2010
2010
Fri, Apr 16, 2010
7:30 PM
2010
Fri, Apr 16, 2010
6:30 PM
2010
Fri, Apr 9, 2010
6:30 PM
2010
Fri, Apr 2, 2010
7:30 PM
2010
Fri, Mar 26, 2010
7:30 PM
2010
Fri, Mar 19, 2010
6:30 PM
2010
Fri, Mar 12, 2010
6:30 PM
2010
Fri, Mar 5, 2010
1–8:30 PM
2010
Fri, Feb 26, 2010
6:30 PM
2009
Fri, Oct 30, 2009
7 PM
2009
Tues, Sept 29, 2009
8 PM
2009
Fri, July 31, 2009
7 PM
2009
Fri, July 24, 2009
7 PM
2009
Fri, July 17, 2009
7 PM
2009
Sat, July 11, 2009
1–4 PM
2009
Fri, July 10, 2009
7 PM
2009
Fri, June 26, 2009
7 PM
2009
Fri, Mar 6, 2009
7–8 PM
2009
Fri, Feb 6, 2009
7–8 PM
2009
Sun, Feb 1, 2009
2–6 PM
2009
Fri, Jan 30, 2009
7–8 PM
2008
Fri, Nov 28, 2008
7–8 PM
2008
Fri, Nov 21, 2008
7–8 PM
2008
Fri, Nov 14, 2008
7–8 PM
2008
Fri, Nov 7, 2008
7–8 PM
2008
Thurs, Oct 16, 2008–Fri, Dec 12, 2008