There’s a generosity to the architecture, a sense of art connecting with the city and vice versa.
The new $422 million Whitney building, designed by Renzo Piano, opening May 1, lets the city pour in. Grand, columnless, rectangular galleries spill onto large, stepped terraces linked by an outdoor stairway, mimicking the neighborhood’s jumble of low- and mid-rise black-tar rooftops and aging fire escapes. The museum becomes an implicit extension of the High Line: an outdoor perch to see and be seen.
– Michael Kimmelman, The New York Times. Stunning photos and great interactive graphics with a superb architectural review of the new Renzo Piano building for the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Plus: Arch Daily’s spot-on review Why 2015′s Most Important Design In Architecture Isn’t A Building, But A New York Times Article of the Time’s review!
Kimmelman is firmly associated with the cohort of critics for whom a building should be much more complex than photography can effectively communicate. “From my perspective architecture is about buildings in context. Buildings don’t exist in a vacuum,” He tells me. “They’re not just images, we can animate the way they actually exist on a street, in a neighborhood, a community, the way they look from different perspectives – the fact is that one is not just reviewing outsides of buildings but insides of buildings. They have to function and to see how they function is also a very important part of reviewing them.”
With “A New Whitney,” The New York Times has presented the first compelling evidence that, through an embrace of the digital, architecture can be presented in a way that acknowledges spatial complexity at a range of scales while remaining visually arresting – and Kimmelman wants to be at the forefront of this transition:
“I think the more information we can provide and the more we can do it in a way that is at once accurate but also exciting is great.
What all these digital tools have given us is a way to tell the story in a more complex way, and we should take advantage of them as we do in other areas of the news report. There’s no reason why architecture shouldn’t be at the forefront of these changes.”
Weinberg and his team — most notably, chief curator and deputy director Donna De Salvo, and curator and associate director Scott Rothkopf — are also operating under unusual terms, thanks to the unusual mission of the museum, which is the third reason the Whitney seems so well suited to the new era.
As De Salvo said, “The Whitney is not a building. It’s an idea.” The idea is actually a question, and the question is “What is American art?”
That mission is a real key. Since it is an evolving question governing an evolving collection, the mission liberates the museum from many of the obligations that burden its competitors, in particular historicization and periodization. The result is much more flexibility, in both what the museum chooses to collect and how it integrates the new work into shows alongside the old. The Met, even as it expands into contemporary art, retains a straightforward standard of world-historical excellence and a very traditional tendency to categorize work in terms of its era and origin. MoMA remains committed, in principle, to its postwar project of canonizing each successive, telescoping iteration of the avant-garde — a problematic mission now that the term has lost so much meaning and new movements evolve in a far weirder, more idiosyncratic and personal, less linear fashion than they used to. When the art history of this era is written, it will not be with a lot of isms.
– Jerry Saltz on How the Whitney might just solve the impossible problem of contemporary art — #MustRead
Let’s cut to the chase: the Whitney Museum of American Art’s inaugural show in its new home in the Meatpacking District, “America Is Hard to See,” is outstanding. With about 600 works by a little over 400 artists, it offers a history of American art—and America—that is richly textured and that teems with beloved classics and electrifying surprises.
I am in love with it, and I suspect I will not be the only one.
– Andrew Russeth, The Whitney Opens With A Winner, ArtNews
When the Whitney Museum of American Art opens its new Renzo Piano-designed home in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District on May 1, 2015, the first exhibition on view will be an unprecedented selection of works from the Museum’s renowned permanent collection. Setting forth a distinctly new narrative, America Is Hard to See presents fresh perspectives on the Whitney’s collection and reflects upon art in the United States with over 600 works by some 400 artists, spanning the period from about 1900 to the present. The exhibition—its title is taken from a poem by Robert Frost and also used by the filmmaker Emile de Antonio for one of his political documentaries—is the most ambitious display to date of the Whitney’s collection.
-The Whitney exhibition page, America Is Hard To See