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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.

Isamu Noguchi, Humpty Dumpty, 1946

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Mark Joshua Epstein: This is a sculpture by the artist Isamu Noguchi that’s called Humpty Dumpty.

Student 1: With the name Humpty Dumpty, it kind of looks like it is pieces, it used to be something flat and whole.

Mark Joshua Epstein: Isamu Noguchi was half Japanese. He had one parent who was Japanese and he lived in Japan until he was about thirteen years old. This sculpture was made just after World War II, which ended because parts of Japan were bombed. I'm wondering if anything thinks that, Humpty Dumpty, the title, has anything to do with this bombing of Japan?

Student 1: Well, I see maybe the artist, he was looking after World War II at the rubble of Japan and the people who had died in the bombing, and he saw that maybe their lives had kind of shattered metaphorically. I think that it is kind of like war, because even after a war might end, it leaves its mark.

Student 2: Well, I feel like it’s sort of a piece of paper when you crumple it up and then you uncrumple it, it’s wrinkled; you can't make it the same.

Abstract sculpture of flat interlocking pieces of stone

Mark Joshua Epstein: This is a sculpture by the artist Isamu Noguchi that’s called Humpty Dumpty.

Student 1: With the name Humpty Dumpty, it kind of looks like it is pieces, it used to be something flat and whole.

Mark Joshua Epstein: Isamu Noguchi was half Japanese. He had one parent who was Japanese and he lived in Japan until he was about thirteen years old. This sculpture was made just after World War II, which ended because parts of Japan were bombed. I'm wondering if anything thinks that, Humpty Dumpty, the title, has anything to do with this bombing of Japan?

Student 1: Well, I see maybe the artist, he was looking after World War II at the rubble of Japan and the people who had died in the bombing, and he saw that maybe their lives had kind of shattered metaphorically. I think that it is kind of like war, because even after a war might end, it leaves its mark.

Student 2: Well, I feel like it’s sort of a piece of paper when you crumple it up and then you uncrumple it, it’s wrinkled; you can't make it the same.


Isamu Noguchi, Humpty Dumpty, 1946. Ribbon slate, 59 × 20 3/4 × 17 1/2in. (149.9 × 52.7 × 44.5 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art; purchase 47.7a-e © 2017 The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York