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In anticipation of its imminent move downtown, the Whitney Museum of American Art is presenting Shaping a Collection: Five Decades of Gifts, a selection of works given to the Museum over the past fifty years by some of its most magnanimous donors. On view in the fifth-floor permanent collection galleries from July 17 to October 19, this will be the last permanent collection installation before the Museum’s relocation; it coincides with the Jeff Koons retrospective, currently on view throughout most of the Museum, also until October 19.
While presenting only a small portion of the gifts the Museum has received during the last fifty years, this exhibition honors benefactors who recognized that a museum’s collection is its foundation. Among those whose transformative gifts are on view are Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz, Sondra Gilman, Emily Fisher Landau, the Lannan Foundation, Leonard A. Lauder, Jean and Howard Lipman, Adriana and Robert Mnuchin, and Diane and Tom Tuft. The exhibition also features a number of gifts from artists, including works donated by Alex Katz, Brice Marden, and Andy Warhol.
Images for the permanent collection exhibitions are available below. To preview an image in a larger window, click on the thumbnail or the "Preview" link below each thumbnail. To download a high-resolution jpeg with complete caption and credit information, click the "Download" link below each thumbnail. Press images are to be used solely in conjunction with the exhibition. The credit must appear in full. Cropping, distorting, or placing text over any image is not permitted.
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Shaping a Collection: Five Decades of Gifts, organized by Dana Miller, curator of the permanent collection, focuses on artists who came to the fore between 1940 and 1990, an extraordinarily dynamic period in American art. Each gallery is organized around a single artist, such as Brice Marden or Bob Thompson, or around a distinct period, such as the early 1980’s graffiti-inspired scene of New York’s East Village. 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, Ed Ruscha, and Andy Warhol.
By reducing all elements in his composition to their essential geometries and treating light as a palpable presence, Edward Hopper imbued his images of everyday life with what the American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson called an “alienated majesty.” One of two permanent collection displays on the Museum’s fifth-floor mezzanine, Edward Hopper and Photography pairs Hopper paintings from the Whitney’s permanent collection with the work of contemporary photographers who share an interest in elevating everyday subject matter by manipulating light. The six photographers represented in this presentation, Gregory Crewdson, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, William Eggleston, Steve Fitch, Todd Hido, and Stephen Shore, record mundane subjects but endow their photographs with emotional poignancy and mystery similar to that in Hopper’s art.
Edward Hopper and Photography is organized by Barbara Haskell, Curator.
The Whitney’s collection is the largest repository of Alexander Calder’s work in the world. Collecting Calder, one of two permanent collection displays on the Museum’s fifth-floor mezzanine, presents a selection of Alexander Calder sculptures and drawings, giving equal focus to the two major aspects of the artist’s oeuvre: Calder’s Circus and his later work in abstraction. For the former, Calder employed ordinary materials—wire, string, cork, wood, paper, bits of metal, and cloth—to create a miniature circus, whose acts he staged for friends and patrons as narrator and puppeteer between 1926 and 1931. His later mobiles, inspired in part by his visit to Piet Mondrian’s studio in 1930, use an ingenious system of weights and counterbalances that allowed each piece’s suspended parts to move in response to air currents, retaining the movement of the circus performances. A selection of these works are also on view along with a group of the artist’s stabiles, or static sculptures.
Collecting Calder is organized by Barbara Haskell, Curator.