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Tours

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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

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

Mark Rothko, Four Darks in Red, 1958

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Narrator: Red, red, and more red.

Mark Rothko used very thin washes of color on top of very thin washes of another color to give paintings like Four Darks in Red a luminous depth.

What happens to the colors the longer you look?

In some cases you might be able to spot one color glowing through the thin layer of paint on top of it. Crimson here, rust there, and a rich maroon other there. And look at the second shape from the top—you might almost imagine getting lost in that deep, textured black. For Rothko, the drama was in the play of the colors and shapes.

Rothko wanted viewers to get close to his art and experience the big emotions he felt while painting. How does it look from the middle of the room? How is it different if you get closer—three or four feet away from the canvas?

Narrator: Red, red, and more red.

Mark Rothko used very thin washes of color on top of very thin washes of another color to give paintings like Four Darks in Red a luminous depth.

What happens to the colors the longer you look?

In some cases you might be able to spot one color glowing through the thin layer of paint on top of it. Crimson here, rust there, and a rich maroon other there. And look at the second shape from the top—you might almost imagine getting lost in that deep, textured black. For Rothko, the drama was in the play of the colors and shapes.

Rothko wanted viewers to get close to his art and experience the big emotions he felt while painting. How does it look from the middle of the room? How is it different if you get closer—three or four feet away from the canvas?


Mark Rothko, Four Darks in Red, 1958. Oil on canvas, 102 × 116 in. (259.1 × 294.6 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Friends of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Mr. and Mrs. Eugene M. Schwartz, Mrs. Samuel A. Seaver, and Charles Simon  68.9. © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York