America Is Hard to See

Solo en Inglès

This audio guide highlights selected works by artists in America Is Hard to See. Curators, scholars, and artists provide additional commentary.

101Robert Henri, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, 1916


Robert Henri (1865–1929). _Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney_, 1916. Oil on canvas, 49 15/16 × 72 in (126.8 × 182.9 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Flora Whitney Miller 86.70.3

ADAM WEINBERG: I’m Adam Weinberg, the Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

This is a painting by Robert Henri of the Whitney’s founder, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, which was painted in 1916. We use it in such a way as to welcome you to this first gallery of the exhibition, which is devoted to the artists that Mrs. Whitney collected and championed in the years just before and just at the opening of the Whitney Museum. 

NARRATOR: You’ll see more images of Mrs. Whitney and the Studio Club—the precursor to the Whitney Museum—on the wall behind you to the right. 

ADAM WEINBERG: Mrs. Whitney was an accomplished sculptor who had her studio, actually just blocks from the current Whitney Museum, in Macdougal Alley, in Greenwich Village. And she never actually intended to create a museum for American art. Her great interest was in supporting and encouraging artists, American artists, who didn’t have opportunities to show their work in the United States, and to encourage a market for their works so that they could be self-sufficient. 

NARRATOR: As you explore this gallery, you’ll see the work of many of these artists—including a more typical painting by Mrs. Whitney’s portraitist, Robert Henri. It’s a beautiful painting of a small boy, called Laughing Child.