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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.

Jay DeFeo, The Eyes, 1958

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Mark Joshua Epstein: We’re looking at a piece by Jay DeFeo called The Eyes, and I'm wondering, what do you notice about this art work?

Student 1: To make it just the eyes they kind of blur out everythinglike everything even close to the eyes.

Student 2: I noticed that in the middle, like where the nose should be, it’s just kind of like almost, it reminds me of slices almost.

Student 3: It looks like it is just staring right at you.

Mark Joshua Epstein: Jay DeFeo was looking at a photograph of her own eyesthe artist was looking at a photograph of her own eyes when she made this artwork and I'm wondering, do you think it counts as a self-portrait even though it’s just her eyes?

Student 1: I think it does count because even though it doesn’t show your entire whole face, the eyes sort of convey a lot.

Student 2: Maybe she is looking at sadness or something, because sometimes people would compare sadness to something being cracked or broken, so she could be looking at something sad.

Student 3: I think that sometimes like a photograph looks very real, but sometimes if something is not super realistic, or if it’s kind of realistic with a little bit of something like a twist, it gives you more to think about.

Drawing of eyes

Mark Joshua Epstein: We’re looking at a piece by Jay DeFeo called The Eyes, and I'm wondering, what do you notice about this art work?

Student 1: To make it just the eyes they kind of blur out everythinglike everything even close to the eyes.

Student 2: I noticed that in the middle, like where the nose should be, it’s just kind of like almost, it reminds me of slices almost.

Student 3: It looks like it is just staring right at you.

Mark Joshua Epstein: Jay DeFeo was looking at a photograph of her own eyesthe artist was looking at a photograph of her own eyes when she made this artwork and I'm wondering, do you think it counts as a self-portrait even though it’s just her eyes?

Student 1: I think it does count because even though it doesn’t show your entire whole face, the eyes sort of convey a lot.

Student 2: Maybe she is looking at sadness or something, because sometimes people would compare sadness to something being cracked or broken, so she could be looking at something sad.

Student 3: I think that sometimes like a photograph looks very real, but sometimes if something is not super realistic, or if it’s kind of realistic with a little bit of something like a twist, it gives you more to think about.


Jay DeFeo, The Eyes, 1958. Graphite pencil on paper, 42 × 84 3/4 in. (106.7 × 215.3 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art; gift of the Lannan Foundation 96.242.3 © 2017 The Jay DeFeo Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY