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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.

Frank Stella, Die Fahne Hoch!, 1959

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Narrator: [Frank] Stella painted these large, abstract paintings when he was a young man.  

Mark Joshua Epstein: I think these early works take a lot of extended looking. The white lines that Stella has left showing through the black paint take a long time to find themselves to your eyes.  It’s almost as if you’re trying to look at something in pitch black and you need to give your eyes time to adjust so that you can really see the details. There’s all of this brushwork that comes through. These lines aren’t exactly—they don’t look like they’re made by machines. They’re definitely made by humans, and you see his brushwork and the evidence of the artist’s hand, which I think is really cool in this work.

You also notice that the paint that he’s using shines in certain spots more than others, and that’s because it was household paint. It was paint from a hardware store, and sometimes the finish was a little bit uneven.  

I think this work looks kind of plain because Frank Stella was really getting to the basics of painting, and he’s trying to really narrow it down to see, if I take out almost everything, can I still make a picture? And what will that picture look like?

An artwork with straight white lines on a black background.

Narrator: [Frank] Stella painted these large, abstract paintings when he was a young man.  

Mark Joshua Epstein: I think these early works take a lot of extended looking. The white lines that Stella has left showing through the black paint take a long time to find themselves to your eyes.  It’s almost as if you’re trying to look at something in pitch black and you need to give your eyes time to adjust so that you can really see the details. There’s all of this brushwork that comes through. These lines aren’t exactly—they don’t look like they’re made by machines. They’re definitely made by humans, and you see his brushwork and the evidence of the artist’s hand, which I think is really cool in this work.

You also notice that the paint that he’s using shines in certain spots more than others, and that’s because it was household paint. It was paint from a hardware store, and sometimes the finish was a little bit uneven.  

I think this work looks kind of plain because Frank Stella was really getting to the basics of painting, and he’s trying to really narrow it down to see, if I take out almost everything, can I still make a picture? And what will that picture look like?


Frank Stella, Die Fahne hoch!, 1959. Enamel on canvas, 121 5/8 x 72 13/16 in. (308.9 x 184.9 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene M. Schwartz and purchase with funds from the John I. H. Baur Purchase Fund, the Charles and Anita Blatt Fund, Peter M. Brant, B. H. Friedman, the Gilman Foundation, Inc., Susan Morse Hilles, The Lauder Foundation, Frances and Sydney Lewis, the Albert A. List Fund, Philip Morris Incorporated, Sandra Payson, Mr. and Mrs. Albrecht Saalfield, Mrs. Percy Uris, Warner Communications Inc., and the National Endowment for the Arts 75.22. © 2015 Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Digital Image © Whitney Museum