The Whitney's Collection: Selections from 1900 to 1965

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“I think that’s what our collection aims to be—to really ground people in the work of the particular moment, but also to show how historical work can have new resonance in our contemporary moment.”
—David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of the Collection

Hear from a range of artists, curators, and scholars speaking about works on view.

Introduction

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David Breslin: My name is David Breslin, I’m the DeMartini Family Curator and director of the collection here at the Whitney Museum of American Art. This exhibition, The Whitney’s Collection: Selections from 1900–1965, is one that is completely put together from the museum’s holdings. 

What we wanted to do with this exhibition was really try to show the depth and the breadth of the Whitney’s collection—to show icons that people are familiar with, from great paintings by Edward Hopper and Calder’s Circus and Jacob Lawrence’s War Series, to new acquisitions, like Norman Lewis’s American Totem, and this great new painting by Ed Clark that really makes our holdings of abstract painting from the mid-twentieth century look as dynamic as it was. And I think that’s what our collection aims to be—to really ground people in the work of the particular moment, to show how all artwork was once contemporary, but also to show how historical work can have new resonance in our contemporary moment, and we bring our feelings, our politics, our emotions, to these artworks in new ways, and really re-engage them to make them new things. So this installation was really one put together with all those ideas in mind—how to make the old new, how to make contemporary ideas feel as resonant with the older works in our collection as one might see in other exhibitions at this museum, to show things that people might know and love but also to introduce other artworks that can be new favorites for when one comes back to the museum to encounter the collection and experience it anew.

David Breslin: My name is David Breslin, I’m the DeMartini Family Curator and director of the collection here at the Whitney Museum of American Art. This exhibition, The Whitney’s Collection: Selections from 1900–1965, is one that is completely put together from the museum’s holdings. 

What we wanted to do with this exhibition was really try to show the depth and the breadth of the Whitney’s collection—to show icons that people are familiar with, from great paintings by Edward Hopper and Calder’s Circus and Jacob Lawrence’s War Series, to new acquisitions, like Norman Lewis’s American Totem, and this great new painting by Ed Clark that really makes our holdings of abstract painting from the mid-twentieth century look as dynamic as it was. And I think that’s what our collection aims to be—to really ground people in the work of the particular moment, to show how all artwork was once contemporary, but also to show how historical work can have new resonance in our contemporary moment, and we bring our feelings, our politics, our emotions, to these artworks in new ways, and really re-engage them to make them new things. So this installation was really one put together with all those ideas in mind—how to make the old new, how to make contemporary ideas feel as resonant with the older works in our collection as one might see in other exhibitions at this museum, to show things that people might know and love but also to introduce other artworks that can be new favorites for when one comes back to the museum to encounter the collection and experience it anew.