Advance Exhibition Schedule
Jill Mulleady: We Wither Time into a Coil of Fright
March 2 – Fall 2020
Based in Los Angeles, Jill Mulleady (b. 1980; Montevideo, Uruguay) makes figurative, narrative paintings often with fantastical, surreal elements. Part of a series of public art installations, organized by the Whitney in partnership with TF Cornerstone and High Line Art, Mulleady’s work will be installed on the façade of 95 Horatio Street, across the street from the Whitney and the High Line on the corner of Gansevoort and Washington Street. For Mulleady, ideas and imagery drawn from both contemporary life and the history of painting are equally significant influences that she adeptly fuses within her work. For a recent cycle of paintings, Mulleady imaginatively combined her interest in the work of early twentieth century painter Edvard Munch, using his paintings as a creative springboard for her surreal world-making, ultimately suggesting the possibility of the co-existence of multiple temporalities in a single composition. Combining this history with contemporary references to violence and our ongoing existential struggle, Mulleady acknowledges our collective anxiety about violence in the world and what this means for our sense of personal vulnerability.
Jill Mulleady is organized by Jane Panetta, Curator and Director of the Collection.
Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist
March 13 – June 28, 2020
Agnes Pelton (1881–1961) was a visionary symbolist who depicted the spiritual reality she experienced in moments of meditative stillness. Art for her was a discipline through which she gave form to her vision of a higher consciousness within the universe. Using an abstract vocabulary of curvilinear, biomorphic forms and delicate, shimmering veils of light, she portrayed her awareness of a world that lay behind physical appearances—a world of benevolent, disembodied energies animating and protecting life. Pelton’s isolation from the mainstream art world meant that her paintings were relatively unknown during her lifetime and in the decades thereafter. This exhibition of approximately forty-five works, ranging from 1917 to 1960, forefronts a little-known artist whose luminous, abstract images of transcendence are only now being fully recognized.
Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist is organized by the Phoenix Art Museum, and curated by Gilbert Vicario, The Selig Family Chief Curator. The installation at the Whitney Museum is overseen by Barbara Haskell, curator, with Sarah Humphreville, senior curatorial assistant.
Salman Toor: How Will I Know
March 20 – July 5, 2020
For his first museum solo exhibition, Salman Toor (b. 1983; Lahore, Pakistan) presents new and recent oil paintings. Known for his small-scale figurative works that combine academic technique and a quick, sketchlike style, Toor offers intimate views into the imagined lives of young, queer Brown men residing between New York City and South Asia. Recurring color palettes and references to art history heighten the emotional impact of Toor’s paintings and add a fantastical element to his narratives drawn from lived experience. Taken as a whole, Toor’s paintings consider vulnerability within contemporary public and private life and the notion of community in the context of queer, diasporic identity.
Salman Toor: How Will I Know is organized by Christopher Y. Lew, Nancy and Fred Poses Curator, and Ambika Trasi, curatorial assistant.
Dave McKenzie: The Story I Tell Myself
March 27 - May 2020
Dave McKenzie (b. 1977; Kingston, Jamaica) draws inspiration for his new Whitney commission, Disturbing the View, from entrepreneurial window washers common in many American urban centers, including New York City. After training with professional window cleaners, whose labor is often invisible to the public, McKenzie will choreograph a circuitous path throughout the Museum, at times suspended from a harness or perched on a ladder, as he soaps and cleans the windows, momentarily disrupting the view as he places himself into the scenes of the Museum’s daily rhythm.
Parallel to the new live work is an exhibition that features McKenzie’s performances for the camera and documentation of live art. This context-setting presentation juxtaposes sculpture, photographs, and video drawn primarily from the Whitney’s collection and archives of artists who have informed the concepts, gestures, and sensibilities in McKenzie’s art. Together the performance commission and accompanying exhibition illuminate McKenzie’s characteristically humorous approach to art-making, and how he engages with and questions ideas, people, and images using his principal tool—the body.
Dave McKenzie: The Story I Tell Myself is organized by Adrienne Edwards, Engell Speyer Family Curator and Curator of Performance.
June 26 – September 20, 2020
This midcareer survey of Julie Mehretu (b. 1970; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), co-organized by the Whitney with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), covers over two decades of the artist’s career and presents the most comprehensive overview of her practice to date. Featuring approximately forty works on paper and more than thirty paintings dating from 1996 to today, the exhibition includes works ranging from her early focus on drawing and mapping to her more recent introduction of bold gestures, saturated color, and figuration. The exhibition will showcase her commitment to interrogating the histories of art, architecture, and past civilizations alongside themes of migration, revolution, climate change, and global capitalism in the contemporary moment. Julie Mehretu is on view at LACMA through May 2020, and following its presentation at the Whitney from June 26 through September 20, 2020, the exhibition will travel to the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA (October 24, 2020–January 31, 2021); and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN (March 13–July 11, 2021).
Julie Mehretu is co-organized by the Whitney and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The exhibition is curated by Christine Y. Kim, associate curator in contemporary art at LACMA, with Rujeko Hockley, assistant curator at the Whitney.
Nothing Is So Humble: Prints from Everyday Objects
June – September 2020
This exhibition looks at the creative and irreverent ways that artists have employed the ordinary objects around them to make prints. Rather than etch a metal plate or carve into a block of wood, these artists work directly with the stuff of their environment—manhole covers, nylon stockings, cassette tape leader, and even a slice of prosciutto—to capture surface impressions that defamiliarize their quotidian subjects and transform them into resonant abstractions of texture, pattern, and line. Drawing from the Whitney’s rich holdings of works on paper, the exhibition brings together prints from the 1950s through today and highlights a range of techniques, from street rubbings and photocopies to collagraphs and soft-ground etchings. This cross-generational presentation will feature works by Sari Dienes, Pati Hill, Virginia Overton, and Julia Phillips, among others, including several recent acquisitions.
Organized by Kim Conaty, Steven and Ann Ames Curator of Drawings and Prints.
Working Together: The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop
July – October 2020
Working Together is an unprecedented exhibition that chronicles the formative years of the Kamoinge Workshop, a collective of Black photographers established in New York City in 1963. The word “Kamoinge” (Kikuyu for “a group of people acting together”) reflects the ideal that animated the collective. In the early years, at a time of dramatic social upheaval, members met regularly to show and discuss each other’s work and to share their critical perspectives, technical and professional experience, and friendship. Deeply committed to photography’s power as an art form, they boldly and inventively depicted their communities as they saw and participated in them, rather than as they were often portrayed. This presentation focuses on the influential work of early Kamoinge members during the first two decades of the collective. It includes approximately 140 photographs by fifteen members: Anthony Barboza, Adger Cowans, Daniel Dawson, Roy DeCarava, Louis Draper, Al Fennar, Ray Francis, Herman Howard, Jimmie Mannas, Herb Randall, Herb Robinson, Beuford Smith, Ming Smith, Shawn Walker, and Calvin Wilson. The photographs provide a powerful and poetic perspective of the 1960s and 1970s during the heart of the Black Arts Movement.
Working Together: The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop is organized by Dr. Sarah Eckhardt, associate curator of modern and contemporary art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The installation at the Whitney is overseen by Carrie Springer, assistant curator, with Nectar Knuckles, curatorial project associate.
Around Day’s End: Downtown New York, 1970–1986
July – October 2020
As a prelude to the unveiling of David Hammons’s Day’s End, the Whitney will present a selection from the Museum’s permanent collection related to the seminal work that inspired Hammons’s sculpture: Gordon Matta-Clark’s Day’s End (1975). The exhibition will feature approximately fifteen artists, including Joan Jonas, Dawoud Bey, Alvin Baltrop, Jimmy Wright, and Martha Rosler, along with Matta-Clark, who worked in the overlapping downtown New York milieu of the 1970s and early 1980s and whose works embody various ideas of artistic intervention into the urban fabric of New York City.
This exhibition is organized by Laura Phipps, assistant curator, with Christie Mitchell, senior curatorial assistant.
Opens September 2020
On the occasion of their twentieth anniversary, My Barbarian presents a two-part survey of their work. One part is a live exhibition that will feature monthly performances reimagining iconic shows representative of the group’s array of theatrical styles, including a play, a festival, a cabaret-style concert of songs, and musical theater. The other part is a historical survey of the group’s performances for the camera, as well as sculptures, paintings, drawings, masks, and puppets, drawn from projects spanning two decades. The members of the group—Malik Gaines (b. 1973), Jade Gordon (b. 1975), and Alexandro Segade (b. 1973)—use performance to theatricalize social issues, adapting modern plays, historical texts, and media narratives into structures for performances.
To celebrate My Barbarian’s creative output, the Whitney has commissioned Rose Bird, composed, directed, and performed by the trio. This performance for the camera is created in homage to the first female chief justice of the California Supreme Court, Rose Bird, a controversial figure because of her opposition to the death penalty, a sentence she repeatedly overturned. The work uses musical texts, re-imagining scenes from her biography as a teleplay and appropriating the media reports that framed her personal life as well as her work.
Organized by Adrienne Edwards, Engell Speyer Family Curator and Curator of Performance, with Mia Matthias, curatorial assistant.
Public Art Project: David Hammons: Day's End
Opens September 2020
Day’s End, a public art project by the immensely influential New York-based artist David Hammons (b. 1943), derives its inspiration and name from Gordon Matta-Clark's 1975 artwork in which he cut five openings into the original Pier 52 shed. Developed in collaboration with the Hudson River Park Trust, Hammons’s artwork will be an open structure that follows the outline, dimensions, and location of the original shed—and like Matta-Clark's work, it will offer an extraordinary place to experience the waterfront and view the sunset. Affixed to the shore on the south edge of Gansevoort Peninsula, the structure will extend over the water, employing the thinnest possible support system. It will appear evanescent and ethereal, seeming to shimmer and almost disappear, changing with the light of day and atmospheric conditions. Hammons’s Day’s End also alludes to the history of New York’s waterfront—from the heyday of its shipping industry to the reclaimed piers that became a gathering place for the gay community. Open to everyone, the artwork will allow easy access to the river's edge.
October 28, 2020 – February 21, 2020
Jasper Johns (b. 1930) is arguably the most influential living American artist. Over the past sixty-five years, he has produced a radical and varied body of work marked by constant reinvention. In an unprecedented collaboration, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Whitney will stage a retrospective of Johns’s career simultaneously across the two museums, featuring paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints, many shown publicly for the first time. Inspired by the artist’s long-standing fascination with mirroring and doubles, the two halves of the exhibition will act as reflections of one another, spotlighting themes, methods, and images that echo across the two venues. A visit to one museum or the other will provide a vivid chronological survey; a visit to both will offer an innovative and immersive exploration of the many phases, facets, and masterworks of Johns's still-evolving career.
This exhibition is co-organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The organizing curators are Scott Rothkopf, Senior Deputy Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Carlos Basualdo, The Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Dawoud Bey: An American Project
Opens November 2020
Since the beginning of his career, Dawoud Bey (b. 1953) has used his camera to represent communities and histories that have largely remained underrepresented or even unseen. This full-scale retrospective, presented by the Whitney and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, highlights the artist’s commitment over the course of his four-decade career to representing Black subjects and African-American history in a manner that is at once direct and poetic, immediate and symbolic. Bey is perhaps best known as a portraitist, and the exhibition includes his tender and perceptive early portraits of Harlem residents, large-scale color Polaroids, and a series of collaborative word-and-image portraits of high school students, among others. More recent projects have taken a historical turn: The Birmingham Project (2012) commemorates the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, in a series of deeply affective portrait diptychs. Lately, Bey has turned to landscapes: Night Coming Tenderly, Black (2018) depicts, in deep shades of black and gray, the imagined experience of a fugitive slave moving along the Underground Railroad, marking a formal departure from the artist’s earlier work but considering the same existential questions about race, history, and the possibility of bearing witness through contemporary photography.
The exhibition is co-organized by Corey Keller, curator of photography at SFMOMA, and Elisabeth Sherman, assistant curator at the Whitney.
Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925-1945
February 17 – May 17, 2020
The cultural renaissance that emerged in Mexico in 1920 at the end of that country’s revolution dramatically changed art not just in Mexico but also in the United States. With approximately 200 works by sixty American and Mexican artists, Vida Americana reorients art history, acknowledging the wide-ranging and profound influence of Mexico’s three leading muralists—José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Diego Rivera—on the style, subject matter, and ideology of art in the United States made between 1925 and 1945. By presenting the art of the Mexican muralists alongside that of their American contemporaries, the exhibition reveals the seismic impact of Mexican art, particularly on those looking for inspiration and models beyond European modernism and the School of Paris.
Works by both well-known and underrecognized American artists will be exhibited, including Thomas Hart Benton, Elizabeth Catlett, Aaron Douglas, Marion Greenwood, Philip Guston, Eitarō Ishigaki, Jacob Lawrence, Isamu Noguchi, Jackson Pollock, Ben Shahn, Thelma Johnson Streat, Charles White, and Hale Woodruff. In addition to Orozco, Rivera, and Siqueiros, other key Mexican artists in the exhibition include Miguel Covarrubias, María Izquierdo, Frida Kahlo, Mardonio Magaña, Alfredo Ramos Martínez, and Rufino Tamayo.
Organized by Barbara Haskell, curator, with Marcela Guerrero, assistant curator; Sarah Humphreville, senior curatorial assistant; and Alana Hernandez, former curatorial project assistant.
Cauleen Smith: Mutualities
February 17 - May 17, 2020
This exhibition is the first solo New York presentation of multi-disciplinary artist Cauleen Smith (b. 1967), whose work, which was featured in the 2017 Whitney Biennial, draws on elements of poetry, science fiction, and non-Western cosmologies to reflect on Afro-diasporic histories and new models of self-reliance and agency. The exhibition features two recent films, newly acquired for the Whitney’s collection, in an installation that reimagines the future as a utopian space of care, acceptance, and mutuality. In Sojourner, women carry six banners bearing words by the jazz composer and spiritual leader Alice Coltrane, whose music forms the soundtrack for both films. The women walk in procession through locations including Noah Purifoy’s Outdoor Art Museum in Joshua Tree. Pilgrim traces the artist’s pilgrimage to Coltrane’s ashram, Watts Towers in Los Angeles, and Rebecca Cox Jackson’s Shaker communities in Philadelphia and Watervliet. In both films, Smith uses the camera and light as improvisational instruments to reveal the power of invention and generosity as resources to transform and rebuild.
Concurrent with Cauleen Smith: Mutualities, from March 5 through May 13, High Line Art will present Signals from Here, an exhibition of Cauleen Smith's video work. Screening evenings on the park at 14th Street, the program includes Three Songs About Liberation (2017), Crow Requiem (2015), Lessons in Semaphore (2015), H-E-L-L-O (2014), and Songs for Earth and Folk (2013).
Cauleen Smith: Mutualities is organized by Chrissie Iles, Anne & Joel Ehrenkranz Curator, with Clémence White, senior curatorial assistant.
Order and Ornament: Roy Lichtenstein's Entablatures
September 27, 2019 – March 22, 2020
This exhibition presents a diverse array of works on paper from Roy Lichtenstein’s Entablatures series, ranging from never-before-exhibited photographic studies and sketchbooks that initiated the series in the early 1970s to his technically experimental prints that form the culmination of the series in 1976. The first exhibition at the Whitney devoted to the artist since the transformative gift of the Roy Lichtenstein Study Collection, this presentation provides a focused look at a single pivotal series, highlighting Lichtenstein’s unique processes and inventive techniques across drawings, prints, photographs, and archival materials.
This exhibition is organized by David Crane, curatorial fellow.
Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019
November 22, 2019 – January 2021
Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019 foregrounds how visual artists have explored the materials, methods, and strategies of craft, beginning with works made after World War II when many artists embraced fiber arts and ceramics to challenge the dominance of traditional painting and sculpture. Over the next seven decades, artists have continued to explore techniques such as weaving, sewing, or pottery, and experimented with textiles, thread, clay, and beads, among other mediums. These works speak to artists’ interests in domesticity, hobbyist materials, the decorative, vernacular American traditions, “women’s work,” and feminist and queer aesthetics. By employing marginalized modes of artistic production, they challenge the power structures that determine artistic value.
Drawn primarily from the Whitney’s collection, the exhibition will encompass over eighty works by more than sixty artists, including Ruth Asawa, Eva Hesse, Mike Kelley, Liza Lou, Howardena Pindell, Robert Rauschenberg, Elaine Reichek, and Lenore Tawney, as well as featuring new acquisitions by Shan Goshorn, Kahlil Robert Irving, Simone Leigh, Jordan Nassar, and Erin Jane Nelson.
This exhibition is organized by Jennie Goldstein, assistant curator, and Elisabeth Sherman, assistant curator, with Ambika Trasi, curatorial assistant.
The Whitney's Collection: Selections from 1900 to 1965
June 28, 2019 –
This exhibition, drawn entirely from the Whitney’s collection, weaves its way through American art history by looking at formative movements, revisited and reimagined genres, and the achievements of single artists. The Whitney Museum of American Art was established in 1930 by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, an artist and benefactor, to advocate on behalf of living American artists. The collection Whitney assembled with the Museum’s first director, Juliana Force, was art-historically rigorous and vibrantly idiosyncratic. Taking its cue from this history, the presentation begins with selections from the Museum’s founding collection, and then examines—largely chronologically—art historical movements including Precisionism, Abstract Expressionism, and Pop; the genres of landscape and fantasy; and the singular contributions of, among others, Georgia O’Keeffe and Jacob Lawrence. In addition to galleries dedicated to icons of the collection, including Alexander Calder’s Circus and Edward Hopper, the exhibition also features more recent acquisitions, including Norman Lewis’s American Totem (1960). The exhibition looks at how singular artistic acts, placed in dialogue with others, help us to see the varieties of the American experience, pasts that need further study, and futures that are in the process of being made.
This exhibition is organized by David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of the Collection, with Margaret Kross, curatorial assistant, and Roxanne Smith, curatorial assistant.