Error

Lost connection. Try moving to a different area to reconnect.

Reload

Tours

No more tours today.

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

Hear directly from artists and curators on selected works from Where We Are: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1900–1960.

Charles Henry Alston, The Family, 1955

0:00

Narrator: Charles Henry Alston lived in Harlem in the mid-1900s. He often focused on his community. Here, he’s pictured a couple of parents with their two children.

He created the image using a combination of big shapes and very skinny lines, almost like a drawing on top of an abstract painting. Instead of just using paintbrushes, he chose to apply the paint with palette knives—a tool shaped a like a spatula—giving the piece a blocky feel.

Who do you think these people were? It’s kind of hard to tell, isn’t it? Their faces are pretty abstract, and their expressions are hard to make out. Alston wasn’t so focused on the individuals here. He was more interested in the idea of a family, and the feeling of stability and love that comes with it. As you look at the painting, see if you can find ways that he made the family members appear connected to each other. 

A painting of 4 people in an abstracted space.

Narrator: Charles Henry Alston lived in Harlem in the mid-1900s. He often focused on his community. Here, he’s pictured a couple of parents with their two children.

He created the image using a combination of big shapes and very skinny lines, almost like a drawing on top of an abstract painting. Instead of just using paintbrushes, he chose to apply the paint with palette knives—a tool shaped a like a spatula—giving the piece a blocky feel.

Who do you think these people were? It’s kind of hard to tell, isn’t it? Their faces are pretty abstract, and their expressions are hard to make out. Alston wasn’t so focused on the individuals here. He was more interested in the idea of a family, and the feeling of stability and love that comes with it. As you look at the painting, see if you can find ways that he made the family members appear connected to each other. 


Charles Henry Alston, The Family, 1955. Oil on canvas, 48 3/16 × 35 13/16 in. (122.4 × 91 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art; purchase, with funds from the Artists and Students Assistance Fund 55.47