Jason Moran

Sept 20, 2019–Jan 5, 2020

The boundary-bursting artist Jason Moran (b. 1975) grounds his practice in the composition of jazz, bridging the visual and performing arts through spellbinding stagecraft. Heralded as one of the country’s leading jazz innovators, Moran transmutes his personal experience of the world into dynamic musical compositions that challenge the formal conventions of the medium. His experimental approach to art-making embraces the intersection of objects and sound, pushing beyond the traditional in ways that are inherently theatrical. 

This exhibition—the artist’s first solo museum show—presents the range of work Moran has explored, from his own sculptures and drawings to collaborations with visual artists to performances. Among the many artists with whom Moran has collaborated are Joan Jonas, Kara Walker, Lorna Simpson, Glenn Ligon, Stan Douglas, Carrie Mae Weems, Adam Pendleton, Theaster Gates, Julie Mehretu, Ryan Trecartin, and Lizzie Fitch. Originating in Minneapolis at the Walker Art Center in the spring of 2018, the show has traveled to the ICA Boston and the Wexner Center before its final stop at the Whitney. This grand finale in Moran's hometown of New York City will feature many performances by renowned jazz musicians and new live adaptations of works made with his most significant artistic collaborators.

Jason Moran is organized by the Walker Art Center, and curated by Adrienne Edwards with Danielle A. Jackson. The Whitney’s presentation is overseen by Adrienne Edwards, the Engell Speyer Family Curator and Curator of Performance, with Clémence White, senior curatorial assistant.

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The exhibition is made possible with the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Piano by Steinway & Sons.

In New York, the exhibition is sponsored by

Generous support for Jason Moran is provided by Erin and Peter Friedland, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Significant support is provided by Chip and Burwell Schorr, Norman and Melissa Selby, and the Joyce and George Wein Foundation.

Additional support is provided by Lisa and Dick Cashin.

STAGED: Slugs’ Saloon


STAGED: Slugs’ Saloon draws upon the architectural features of the iconic jazz venue it’s titled for to evoke an atmospheric scene. More dive bar than jazz club, Slugs’ Saloon was a long, narrow space with exposed-brick walls, colored light fixtures, a mural by painter Bob Thompson, and floors covered in sawdust. Located on East Third Street between Avenue B and Avenue C in New York’s then seedy Alphabet City from 1964 to 1972, it was home to the experimentalists of free jazz, including Albert Ayler, Jackie McLean, Sun Ra’s Arkestra, Pharoah Sanders, and Cecil Taylor.

With mirrors that swing out from the sides of the bandstand—a notable departure from the original Slugs’—Moran’s installation features a multitiered platform with a wooden floor, vintage upright piano, and drum set. On its lower level sits a single chair and a Wurlitzer Americana II jukebox, surrounded by sawdust and programmed with whistling tunes and audience incantations from the Village Vanguard, where Moran and The Bandwagon have a standing gig every third week of November.

STAGED: Slugs’ Saloon, 2018


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Audio guides

Find sound descriptions and transcripts of works with sound in this exhibition.

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Explore works from this exhibition
in the Whitney's collection

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In the News

“There’s a sense of movement and evocative purpose to everything [Jason Moran] does.” —Observer

“Jason Moran’s Jazz Journey at the Whitney Upends Space and Time” —The New York Times