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Shaping a Collection: Five Decades of Gifts

July 17–Oct 19, 2014

Ed Ruscha, Standard Study #2, 1962. Opaque watercolor, pen and ink, and graphite on paper, 5 3/8 x 10 1/8 in. (13.7 x 25.7 cm). Gift of The American Contemporary Art Foundation, Inc., Leonard A. Lauder, President  2005.64

Ed Ruscha, Standard Study #2, 1962. Opaque watercolor, pen and ink, and graphite on paper, 5 3/8 × 10 1/8 in. (13.7 × 25.7 cm). Gift of The American Contemporary Art Foundation, Inc., Leonard A. Lauder, President  2005.64

From the Whitney Museum’s inception in 1930, its permanent collection has grown primarily through the generosity of individual donors, beginning with Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s founding gift of more than five hundred works of art. In the five decades since Marcel Breuer designed the Whitney’s current building, the collection has expanded dramatically—from about 2,300 objects to more than 21,000 works—in large part due to donations from Museum trustees, collectors, foundations, and artists. Today, gifts comprise nearly two-thirds of the Museum’s holdings, including many works now considered to be icons. While representing only a small portion of the gifts received during the last fifty years, this exhibition honors all of the benefactors who have understood that a museum’s collection is its foundation.

Shaping a Collection: Five Decades of Gifts focuses on artists who came to the fore between 1940 and 1990, an extraordinarily dynamic period in American art. It is impossible to imagine contemporary art without the precedents set by the artists in this presentation, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Agnes Martin, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol. On the eve of the Whitney’s move downtown, this exhibition provides a small indication of the collection’s depth, soon to be seen in the Museum’s new, larger home starting in the spring of 2015.

Shaping a Collection: Five Decades of Gifts is organized by Dana Miller, Curator of the Permanent Collection.

Works from the Exhibition

Andy Warhol, Untitled (Cyclist), c. 1976. Four gelatin silver prints stitched with thread, 27 3/8 × 21 5/8 in. (69.6 × 54.9 cm) overall. Unique. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and purchase with funds from the Photography Committee  94.125© 2009 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Jasper Johns, Three Flags, 1958. Encaustic on canvas, 30 7/8 × 45 1/2 × 5 in. (78.4 × 115.6 × 12.7 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; 50th Anniversary Gift of the Gilman Foundation Inc., The Lauder Foundation, A. Alfred Taubman, Laura-Lee Whittier Woods, and purchase  80.32Art © Jasper Johns / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Claes Oldenburg, Giant BLT (Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich), 1963. Vinyl, kapok fibers, painted wood, and wood, 32 × 39 × 29 in. (81.3 × 99.1 × 73.7cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of The American Contemporary Art Foundation Inc., Leonard A. Lauder, President  2002.255a-s© Claes Oldenburg
James Rosenquist, Fahrenheit 1982 Degrees, 1982. Colored ink on frosted mylar, 33 1/8 × 71 1/2 in. (84.1 × 181.6 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the John I. H. Baur Purchase Fund, the Mr. and Mrs. M. Anthony Fisher Purchase Fund, and The Lauder Foundation—Drawing Fund  82.35Art © James Rosenquist / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Edward Ruscha, Standard Station, Amarillo, Texas, 1962, from Twentysix Gasoline Stations, 1963. Gelatin silver print, 4 15/16 × 5 1/16 in. (12.5 × 12.9 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from The Leonard and Evelyn Lauder Foundation, and Diane and Thomas Tuft  2004.461© Ed Ruscha
Edward Ruscha, Phillips 66, Flagstaff, Arizona, 1962, from Twentysix Gasoline Stations, 1963. Gelatin silver print, 4 11/16 × 4 11/16 in. (11.9 × 11.9 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from The Leonard and Evelyn Lauder Foundation, and Diane and Thomas Tuft  2004.467© Ed Ruscha
Edward Ruscha, Texaco, Vega, Texas, 1962, from Twentysix Gasoline Stations, 1963. Gelatin silver print, 4 11/16 × 5 in. (11.9 × 12.7 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from The Leonard and Evelyn Lauder Foundation, and Diane and Thomas Tuft  2004.476© Ed Ruscha
Edward Ruscha, Twentysix Gasoline Stations Slant, 1963. Graphite, colored pencil, pen, and ink on paper, 14 × 11 1/16 in. (35.6 × 28.1 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of The American Contemporary Art Foundation Inc., Leonard A. Lauder, President  2005.44© 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.
Brice Marden, Bridge Study, 1991. Ink, wash, and gouache on paper, 26 × 34 3/8 in. (66 × 87.3 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Drawing Committee and The Norman and Rosita Winston Foundation Inc.  92.27© 2009 Brice Marden / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Barnett Newman, The Promise, 1949. Oil on canvas, 51 1/2 × 68 1/8 in. (130.8 × 173 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Adriana and Robert Mnuchin  2000.338© 2009 Barnett Newman Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Jackson Pollock, Number 18, 1951, 1951. Enamel on canvas, 59 1/4 × 55 7/8 in. (150.5 × 141.9 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of The American Contemporary Art Foundation Inc., Leonard A. Lauder, President  2002.258© 2009 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
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