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Meet the Director

About the Whitney

As the preeminent institution devoted to the art of the United States, the Whitney Museum of American Art presents the full range of twentieth-century and contemporary American art, with a special focus on works by living artists. The Whitney is dedicated to collecting, preserving, interpreting, and exhibiting American art, and its collection—arguably the finest holdings of twentieth-century American art in the world—is the Museum's key resource. The Museum's flagship exhibition, the Biennial, is the country's leading survey of the most recent developments in American art.

Innovation has been a hallmark of the Whitney since its beginnings. It was the first museum dedicated to the work of living American artists and the first New York museum to present a major exhibition of a video artist (Nam June Paik, in 1982). Such important figures as Jasper Johns, Jay DeFeo, Glenn Ligon, Cindy Sherman, and Paul Thek were given their first comprehensive museum surveys at the Whitney. The Museum has consistently purchased works within the year they were created, often well before the artists who created them became broadly recognized.

Designed by architect Renzo Piano and situated between the High Line and the Hudson River, the Whitney's current building vastly increases the Museum’s exhibition and programming space, providing the most expansive view ever of its unsurpassed collection of modern and contemporary American art.

Where We Are

Solo en Inglès

Where We Are traces how artists have approached the relationships, institutions, and activities that shape our lives. Watch a series of ASL videos on the artists and themes of the exhibition.

Transcript

Here we see art by Jacob Lawrence from his series of paintings called War Series 1946-1947. We see a narrative about World War II. From shipping out, to victory. His work is reminiscent of Egyptian wall paintings. The similarities are the profiles, the big eyes and the overlapping figures. Lawrence chose to focus on the bold abstract form instead of perspective and modeling. Lawrence believed that a person can’t tell just one story. That’s why he chose to tell a narrative — a story with many parts. 

Lawrence served in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II. During that time he was given the rank of Steward’s Mate. It was the only rank given to African American soldiers. His experience during World War II was extreme. He said his ship became “a hospital ship” as it transported over five thousand injured troops back home. Lawrence felt that it was not possible to verbalize what he saw. That it would cheapen the experience. So instead we see how he processed those experiences through his paintings. Lawrence was respected as one of the first early twentieth century African American artists. After he was discharged from the war, he started working on this series, the War Series, and he showed his work.The Whitney Museum was the first place to show Lawrence’s work.

Here we see art by Jacob Lawrence from his series of paintings called War Series 1946-1947. We see a narrative about World War II. From shipping out, to victory. His work is reminiscent of Egyptian wall paintings. The similarities are the profiles, the big eyes and the overlapping figures. Lawrence chose to focus on the bold abstract form instead of perspective and modeling. Lawrence believed that a person can’t tell just one story. That’s why he chose to tell a narrative — a story with many parts. 

Lawrence served in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II. During that time he was given the rank of Steward’s Mate. It was the only rank given to African American soldiers. His experience during World War II was extreme. He said his ship became “a hospital ship” as it transported over five thousand injured troops back home. Lawrence felt that it was not possible to verbalize what he saw. That it would cheapen the experience. So instead we see how he processed those experiences through his paintings. Lawrence was respected as one of the first early twentieth century African American artists. After he was discharged from the war, he started working on this series, the War Series, and he showed his work.The Whitney Museum was the first place to show Lawrence’s work.