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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.

Spilling Over

Solo en Inglès

"More often than not, you have to assume that there is some sort of relationship between radical gestures and art, and radical gestures and the world."
—Rashid Johnson

Hear from the artists, the exhibition’s curator, and scholars speaking about works on view.

Installation view of Spilling Over.

David Breslin: Hi, my name is David Breslin. I'm the DeMartini family curator and director of the collection at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

This exhibition gathers paintings from the 1960s and early 1970s that used color as the animating factor. I think one could say that, for all painting, color is something that's instrumental, but for these paintings, it's really determinative of how we see them, how we are affected by them, how I think the artist really wanted to put forward color as opposed to gesture or line or representative subject matter to really get across what he, she, they were wanting to do with this painting.

I've always loved paintings from this period because of the way that they really call the viewer, really compel the viewer into the space that the paintings make. 

And what some of those artists were really thinking about was less about what was in the painting in terms of subject matter, but really how those painting made a viewer feel, how they set the stage for a certain environment in which the viewer and their feelings, their perception, their politics, really began to share the same stage as the painting in the room.


Installation view of Spilling Over: Painting Color in the 1960s (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, March 29, 2019–summer 2019).