Getting my art af-fairs in order, first up is the uber-popular Independent Fair New Yorkthat’s now a must-for artsy folks’ Armory agenda. Independent continues to be one of the “it” fairs with just the right balance before reaching visual overload tipping point. And, what’s new this year, is the Tribeca location at the Spring Studios (swanky and slick vibe) just few corners from the the H’s — Holland Tunnel, Hunter MFA Studios and a major art collector couple (rhymes with port).
Independent was conceived by Elizabeth Dee and Darren Flook and developed in conjunction with creative advisor Matthew Higgs and director Laura Mitterrand. Here’s a list of participating galleries, many of which have a strong pulse (and eye) for artists to know about. More details to follow. In the meantime, here’s a sweeping view of what caught my eye.
This Miami Basel Week proved once again to be one with surprises, torrential rain, drama and want…want…want! And, after several hundred iPone images, I reflect upon some of my most memorable moments from art faves and newly discovered artists, to the general fair vibe or just whatever that caught my fancy.
ART BASEL MIAMI
Art Basel’s 13th edition in Miami Beach closed on Sunday, December 7, 2014, amidst strong praise from gallerists, private collectors, museum groups and the media. Highlights of the show included the introduction of the new Survey sector, which brought 13 art-historical projects to the fair, including many rare works never before exhibited in an art fair context; and Art Basel’s staging with Performa of Ryan McNamara’s ‘MEƎM 4 Miami: A Story Ballet About the Internet’ at the Miami Grand Theater. Solid sales were reported across all levels of the market and throughout the run of the show. Featuring 267 leading international galleries from 31 countries, the show – whose Lead Partner is UBS – attracted an attendance of 73,000 over five days. Attendees included representatives of over 160 museum and institution groups from across the world – and a surging number of new private collectors from the Americas, Europe and Asia.
Following a 100 percent reapplication rate for the Galleries sector and with new galleries coming from across the world, the list of exhibitors was the strongest to date in Miami Beach, firmly solidifying the show’s position as the leading international art fair of the Americas.
Participating gallerists spoke highly of their experience:
‘This year’s Art Basel in Miami Beach has enabled us to further strengthen our relationships with international collectors, placing key works in important US collections.’ Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers, Co-owners, Sprüth Magers Berlin London, Berlin, London
‘Art Basel’s show in Miami Beach is the gold standard by which all other art fairs are judged. Its content, audience and presentation are consistently of the highest quality.’ Adam Sheffer, Partner/Sales Director, Cheim & Read, New York
‘The American collectors showed strengths almost unseen before – they were very focused and very determined, exhibiting fast decision-making and a curious and positive mindset.’
Thaddaeus Ropac, Founder and Owner, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, Salzburg
‘We have been overwhelmed by the response to Jack Early’s work by museums, the media and critics. And for a tough body of work, we have been pleasantly surprised by the large number of sales too.’ Fergus McCaffrey, Director, Fergus McCaffrey, New York, St Barths
‘There is always great energy on the opening day of Art Basel’s Miami Beach show. We sold more than half of our stand in the first few hours of the fair.’ Jack Shainman, Co-Founder, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
‘We were excited about the great presentation that we were able to bring for our first show in Miami Beach, in this brand new Survey sector. Tetsuya Ishida passed away in 2005 and we are extremely honored to show his work in the United States. The sales were strong and we are glad to have met many new collectors from the United States and from Asia.’ Yumie Wada, President, Y++ Wada Fine Arts, Beijing, Tokyo
‘We curated an exceptional 20th century masterpiece selection of works. The response has been overwhelmingly positive from both collectors as well as from our colleagues, proving the importance for a serious classic Modern presence at Art Basel.’Mathias Rastorfer, Co-CEO, Galerie Gmurzynska, Zurich, Zug, St Moritz
‘This fair always has a good balance of new and returning audiences and this has only increased as the show has matured over the past 13 years. We have met with a lot of collectors from across Latin America, as well as finding new faces from places as far flung as Istanbul, Moscow, San Juan, Zurich, Paris, Florence, Munich, Seoul and Hong Kong.’ Paul L. Gray, Director, Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago, New York
‘Art Basel in Miami Beach was a smashing success – one of our strongest ever. Collectors were serious and engaged from the moment the doors opened. Even after nearly selling out our booth on opening day the energy remained high. It’s an energizing way to end the season; we can’t wait to be back next year.’ David Maupin, Co-Founder, Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong
‘We had another successful year at Art Basel in Miami Beach. Museum sales were particularly strong this year with some great curatorial projects now in the pipeline. As always, the Latin American collectors were a strong presence, buying work by our European as well as Brazilian artists.’Alison Jacques, Owner, Alison Jacques Gallery, London
‘Though Art Basel in Miami Beach is primarily known as a contemporary art fair, we always have a phenomenal response to the classic Modernist work that we exhibit.’ Howard Shaw, President and Director, Hammer Galleries, New York
Run…don’t walk! In just a few weeks, The High Museum closes its blockbuster show, Alex Katz: This is Now which is a precious gem of a show that encapsulates the great American master’s love for landscape with a dash od “Ada” at the beginning of the show. For me, it’s an immersive show, hijacking viewers into Katz’s monumental paintings held hostage to calming contemplation, as well as a pure appreciation for the Katz’s painterly skills and composition that swings between past and present. Of special note, congrats to High curator Michael Rooks for mounting such an elegant show, reflective of his deep admiration, friendship and respect for Mr. Katz.
According to the release…..
The High Museum of Art presents a major exhibition of 60 works created between 1954 and 2013 by internationally acclaimed American artist Alex Katz, including 15 monumental landscape paintings to be displayed publicly together for the first time. “Alex Katz, This Is Now” is one of the largest exhibitions focused on the artist’s landscapes in almost 20 years. The High is the sole U.S. venue for the exhibition, which will also tour to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
On view from June 21 to Sept. 6, 2015, the exhibition traces Katz’s unique artistic treatment of the landscape throughout the trajectory of his career, from his 1950s collages that use the environment as a setting for the human figure, to the artist’s later works, which illustrate Katz’s shift to landscape as the dominant subject. Approximately one third of the paintings featured in the exhibition were created by Katz within the last decade, offering visitors an opportunity to view the artist’s contemporary works alongside early examples from his career.
“The works in ‘This Is Now’ reveal the absolute clarity and power of Katz’s vision, which has enabled his work to stand out among his contemporaries since the 1950s as new art movements were introduced,” said Michael Rooks, Wieland Family curator of modern and contemporary art at the High. “Today, at the age of 87, Katz seems as young as any emerging artist. He paints with gutsiness and a personal resolve that has driven his practice for six decades, but which has become increasingly accelerated in recent years, reflecting a uniquely American boldness and steadfastness of purpose.”
“We are delighted to build on the High’s commitment to engage our audiences with the work of living artists and to provide a platform for such a major figure in American art,” said Michael E. Shapiro, Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr. director of the High.
Katz utilizes a signature shorthand of rapid paint-handling to convey essential, abridged imagery, which is even more urgent and powerful in the landscapes of his late career. “This Is Now” places particular focus on what Katz calls his “environmental paintings.” These works, in monumental size and scale, engulf viewers with their expansive, painterly surfaces that depict moments of intense observation in the landscape—what Katz describes as “flashes” of perception or “quick things passing.”
In these paintings, images are often cropped and lack a specific point of spatial reference, such as a horizon line, thus inviting a contemplative experience and generating the feeling of immersion in Katz’s open-ended pictorial space. Works in “This Is Now” demonstrate the very deliberate choices that Katz makes to translate the temporal nature of “quick things passing” into keenly observed and powerfully felt moments of perception—when the understanding of visual information and the construction of one’s relationship to it happen simultaneously.
Among the 15 monumental landscape paintings featured in the exhibition are two recent acquisitions from the High’s collection that exemplify Katz’s unique style: “Winter Landscape 2” (2007) and “Twilight” (1988). “Winter Landscape 2” depicts a stand of trees that have shed their leaves, which are set against a cool, snowy background. In the galleries, the painting is complemented by works from Katz’s “January” series, which incorporate the same composition, demonstrating Katz’s repeated return to subjects and specific imagery. “Twilight” features small slivers of a moonlit sky as seen through the top of a grove of shadowy fir trees.
Fundamental to his artistic practice, Katz has cited landscape as “a reason to devote my life to painting.” Upon Katz’s graduation from The Cooper Union in 1949, he began studying at the Skowhegan School for Painting and Sculpture in Maine, where he was exposed to painting en plein air. That experience was pivotal in his development as an artist, and landscape painting has remained a fundamental aspect of his practice through subsequent decades.
In the late 1950s, Katz invented a new mode of painting, radically departing from the mainstream American art of the time. Working in a style that became his signature— characterized by the artist’s fixed concentration on a central subject, typically isolated against a monochromatic ground, or landscape—Katz created representational paintings that challenged the New York School’s critical authority, which championed the dominance of non-objective, abstract painting at the time. His paintings corresponded directly to the external appearance of the people and places around him—what American Abstract Expressionist painter Barnett Newman called “object matter.”
Katz applied a renewed focus on landscape as a central theme in his work in the 1980s. He began to produce his monumental paintings, stripping away unnecessary information and representing his subjects in a way that is as much about the essence of form as it is about light, time, and the appearance of the world around him.
Accompanying “This Is Now” is a fully illustrated catalogue with essays by Rooks, art critic Margaret Graham, and artist David Salle, as well as poems by John Godfrey and Vincent Katz, the artist’s son.
I first mentioned Brooklyn-based Jennie Jieun Lee last year in a ceramics post, and since then, the in-demand artist is “kiln’n” it with her oddly abstracted masks and vessels that are fast gaining the attention of art influentials and collectors alike. So it was pretty cool to attend Jennie’s first NY solo show “Mrs. Thompson’s Mirror”at Martos Gallery (where her masks first hung in a group show curated by Eddie Martinez), finally meet her in person, and just catch the good vibrations of this eventful evening.
According to the release:
Identifying with ceramicists such as Simon Carroll and Alison Britton, Lee’s work coincides with the history and spirit of abstract painting. Freely thrown layers of clay and glaze are amassed—dripped, overlaid, poured, splattered and sponged—forming a harmonious network of shape,gesture and color. Puddles of pastel pinks, blues and yellows brush up against thick metallic pigments that cinematically spill across the surface like rain.
Entrenched in personal history and introspection the masks and vessels vibrate with visceral emotions ranging from distress and rage to elation and hysteria. These progressions reflect our own movements when looking into a mirror. Clay-formed facial distortions—stuck out tongues, winks, smiles, yawns, and pursed lips—clatter together to beget a vivacious, physical dialogue throughout the gallery.
The structure of the exhibition enforces an unrestrained perceptivity and theatricality. The wallpaper hung on the southern end of the gallery operates as backdrop anchoring surrounding parts; its design is a repeated pattern taken from a close up photo of one of the pieces in the show. Vessels and masks restlessly hang on the wallpaper and move throughout the gallery, while others sit on a cascading amphitheatre like structure, each one working as an actor or prop in the artist’s reflective surveying of emotion and reaction.
Jennie Jieun Lee was born in 1973 in Seoul, Korea. Her work has been exhibited in the U.S. and abroad at galleries such as Cooper Cole, Toronto; Galerie Lefebvre et Fils, Paris; Jacob Bjorn Gallery, Arhus and Anonymous Gallery, New York. This summer, she will be in a two-person show at Halsey McKay Gallery in East Hampton, Long Island. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Cheers to Jennie for a fantastic jam-packed opening…and congrats on being named a finalist for the first NY Artadia award and the stylish collab with Rachel Comey. It’s been an amazing year thus far and I’m certain there’s much much more in kiln to come. Can’t wait!
Whenever I make it back to New York, it’s a continual juggling act between family, friends, galleries, fairs, museums…and of course, squeezing in a few studio visits from my wish list artists. This time I lucked out with a one-stop Brooklyn industrial warehouse located on the BQE fringe and where artistic magic is made. One floor, three emerging artists — Trudy Benson, Russell Tyler, and duo Tribble & Mancenido.
Trudy Benson — It was a treat to see Trudy’s works at its various stages of progress. Known for her layered painting and tubular techniques, her canvasses are commanding compositions of abstractions — fresh n’ bold and ohhh, so Trudy. Can’t wait to see how the summer Retrospective show (on the Hudson) plays out alongside hubby Russell.
Russell Tyler — The lofty studio is divided by a huge wall to accommodate Russell Tyler’s practice, who’s currently debuting his first solo show at Denny Gallery in LES. What I admire about Russell, is that over the past few years, he’s maintained a laser focus and finessed his monochromatic-esque abstractions of texture, color and form. And, I like how he’s tip-toeed into the more brushy chaotic abstractions that complement his structured compositions quite convincingly…perhaps a yin to the yang.
Tribble & Mancenido – Finally, a few paces down from Russell’s studio are Frank and Tracey, whose documentary photography hinges on the sculptural and conceptual. I was pretty stoked when I saw their latest “grid” (part of their Sublet series) photos that push the visual experience 180 degrees — in other words must-see works in person. In the next few weeks, the duo curates “Swingers,” a pop-up group show during Bushwick Open Studio week and then later this summer takes off to Graz, Vienna for a residency program.
After walking through several art fairs, I took a much needed breather from Frieze Week to check out the Collective Design which was a first for me (at least in NY). So Sunday morning, I headed to West SoHo with a bagel and coffee in tow, and just in time to catch a walk-through with a Collective insider who escorted our intimate group design enthusiasts throughout the fair. Lucky for us, Collective Design founder, Steven Lerner was also part of the pack. For novices like myself, I highly recommend walk-thoughs for its curated insight to period styles, coveted collectibles, anecdotes, process and materials, and overall design highlights. It was a pleasant experience, at a relaxed pace, and a great opp to bring myself up to speed on design trends that included furnishings and accessories….and yes, a little art work too. I can’t say Collective was about the latest trends, but rather a luxe taste level that caters to art collectors. Oh, and a shout out to the Collective Design’s automotive sponsor, Cadillac, which provided VIP shuttle service in their 2015 CTS — a perfect end-cap reflective of Collective’s elegance and style.
The third edition of Collective Design’s fair closed on Sunday, May 17, with exhibitors, collectors, and visitors across the board expressing tremendous enthusiasm for the diversity and ingenuity of this year’s presentations. Collective Design welcomed more than 10,000 visitors across its five-day run at Skylight Clarkson Sq in West Soho, a 25 percent increase in attendance from 2014. Its exceptional opening night drew several thousand tastemakers, design professionals, and buyers.
The 2015 fair featured 29 exhibitors from across the globe, including gallerists from Copenhagen, Madrid, Milan, New York, Oslo, Paris, and Stockholm, as well as 14 special installations, which highlighted the depth of Collective Design’s engagement with the creative community. The Collective Influence: Ingo Maurer exhibition and Sight Unseen OFFSITE pop-up, which were open to the public without ticket purchase, created dynamic counterpoints, allowing visitors to interact with the work of a design master alongside emerging voices.
“This has been the most successful year for Collective Design to date—we broke all of our previous attendance records, welcoming both connoisseurs and the design- loving public. It’s been so gratifying to bring together a diverse range of talents to celebrate design innovation and engage with the broader creative community,” said Steven Learner, Founder and Creative Director. “Our exhibitors and partners presented some of the most important historical material and exciting work being made today, enticing established collectors and many new visitors to discover design.”
Among the prominent figures to experience the spectrum of design innovation and thinking were Maurizio Cattelan, Wendell Castle, Sofia Coppola, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Ronald and JoCarole Lauder, Don and Mera Rubell, Julianne Moore, Emily Blavatnik, Michael Boodro, Olivier Sarkozy, Annabelle Selldorf, Stefano Tonchi, and Glenda Bailey; fashion designers Mary-Kate Olsen of The Row and Francisco Costa of Calvin Klein; gallerists Sean Kelly, Cristina Grajales, and Paul Kasmin; interior designers Jamie Drake, Robert Couturier, India Mahdavi, Steven Gambrel, Anthony Ingrao, and Brian McCarthy; and designers Lindsey Adelman, Max Lamb, Jaime Hayon, Bethan Laura Wood, Sebastian Errazuriz, and Piet Hein Eek; as well as dignitaries from Italy, Norway, and Denmark. The fair also saw high visitation from national museums, including leadership from the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Modern Art; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Museum of Arts and Design; Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum; Carnegie Museum of Art; and Neue Galerie, among others.
Strong sales of vintage and contemporary works were reported by exhibitors throughout the fair, reflecting a broad range of material, style, and price aimed to attract both the avid collector and those new to collectible design. Maison Gerard sold the 2015 lighting sculpture Entudia by artist Ayala Serfaty for more than $250,000 to a design industry leader. Nicholas Kilner sold a rare and important illuminated desk by Guglielmo Ulrich and a unique suite of furniture by Carlo Enrico Rava—both with asking prices well over $100,000. MMATERIAL, led by Fernando Mastrangelo, sold more than $300,000 in objects from its new outdoor furniture collection. Sienna Patti sold out of the featured Lola Brooks jewelry collection, with asking prices ranging from $8,000-23,000, and J. Lohmann Gallery noted sales across all his featured artists, including Merete Rasmussen, a piece of whose sold for nearly $15,000, and Sandra Davolio, whose work sold at prices ranging from $8,000- 12,000.
First-time exhibitors LMD/studio, Chicago; Memphis–Post Design Gallery, Milan; and Friedman Benda, New York, drew new and seasoned collectors. LMD/Studio, helmed by Lukas Machnik, sold out their booth of contemporary, minimalist design by Rick Owen, Parts of Four, and others. Friedman Benda sold works by Wendell Castle, Adam Silverman, and Misha Kahn. Memphis-Post Design Gallery inspired significant interest from private collectors and museums across the country in Memphis material, reinforcing its importance to the evolution of design. The gallery sold more than $150,000 in objects, including three pieces by Shiro Kuramata, and is in discussion with a major institution regarding a large acquisition.
Designers featured in special installations and exhibitions highlighted the inclusive nature of the fair, attracting an array of buyers as well. Ashira Israel, of the Brooklyn- based studio IN.SEK, who cast and finished a series of concrete vessels onsite, sold nearly 200 unique pieces. Brian Thoreen, whose work was featured in Sight Unseen OFFSITE’s pop-up at the Collective Design fair, sold eight works, together worth more than $150,000.
Among additional sale highlights: Glass Past sold a rare Murrine plate from 1959 by Paulo Venini to private collectors; Donzella sold nearly 50% of its booth, including several Fontana Arte mirrors and lighting pieces; Patrick Parrish Gallery sold more than 30 pieces from Cody Hoyt’s onsite studio; Wexler Gallery sold out of ceramics by Roberto Lugo and sold the Yumi Chair II by Laura Kishimoto to a private collection focused on American chairs; Galerie Gosserez sold a lighting installation by Dutch duo OS & OOS to a New York collector as well as two rare textile sculptures by Simone Pheulpin; among the works sold by Ornamentum were two pieces by Ted Noten at $25,000 each; and R & Company sold more than 15 works, including several of The Haas Brothers’ “Beasts” and glass pieces by Thaddeus Wolfe.
Exhibitors praised the Collective Design fair on closing day:
“Collective Design continues to grow in strength and importance. Steven Learner continues to prove that he has his finger on the pulse of what is happening in design today, both in New York and internationally.” –Patrick Parrish Gallery
“We are a different type of gallery. We are about collaboration. What we’re showing— this is our lifestyle. Collective Design gave us the opportunity to share our lifestyle with a new audience. The traffic has been so consistent. We’ve been able to create new relationships. It was a terrific experience.” –LMD/studio
“Opening night was fabulous. We were able to meet new clients and made major sales. Collective Design has really become a destination, and there is a clear sense of vision. The special installations and new projects are also stimulating and invigorating to the experience.” –Sienna Patti
“For our first Collective experience, we were excited to introduce Adam Silverman and Misha Kahn to the New York audience, alongside the iconic Wendell Castle. It is gratifying to see the response that these artists of three distinct generations had from the many collectors and curators who came to the fair from across the country.” –Friedman Benda
“Collective Design puts design in context. This experience has been as much about the commercial aspect as education by having such a range and diversity in one place. It’s really helped legitimize design from the 1980s, and expand understanding. The conversations with curators, collectors, and those new to design have been engaging and compelling. We’re looking forward to doing something even bigger next year.” –Memphis–Post Design Gallery
For the fourth edition of the Deutsch-sponsored Frieze New York, I stepped onto Randall’s Island with a laissez faire (vs. a gotta see it all) attitude and chilled out with whatever the art fair threw at me. So I strolled the great white tent’s 198 galleries from 33 countries to catch the latest trends, new discoveries and plain and simple…amazing art to revel at, and of course add on my wish list of wants.
After an easy breezy media check-in, I was greeted by pure lusciousness at LA’s David Kordansky booth dedicated to artist Lesley Vance as she gave me a heavy dose of what I so love about her work — jewel-tone abstracts that are sensual, elegant and stately in personality. On the outer walls, it was the first time to see her abstract collaged works on paper, of which gave a slightly different and casual vibe.
Not surprisingly, Kurt Mueller of Kordansky Gallery said: ‘We’ve enjoyed another tremendously successful week at Frieze. Our immediately sold-out solo presentation was the first time a group of Lesley Vance’s intimate abstract paintings have been seen in the city since her 2012 solo exhibition at the Flag Art Foundation and the 2010 Whitney Biennial.” I saw both of those shows….and it was the Whitney where the lovefest began.
While I missed out on Pia Camil’s ponchos and opted to bypass the sensory Projects lines, here are ten 2015 Frieze-rvations:
1) Artists are delving into the actual booth designs, a la Laurel Gitlen’s booth which showcased Bill Jenkins reimagined space to feature Ryan McLaughlin’s paintings.
2) Works on paper are having a moment and were the main event at a number of the booths. I spent some time taking in Calvin Marcus’ suite of drawings “Military Man With Tongue Out” at the Clearing booth…White Columns featured Bill Lynch drawings, as well as its annual portfolio print edition (with the likes of Jonas Wood and Chris Martin) which sold at during preview at 1K a pop.
3) Ceramics continue to mold itself into the contemporary conversation …not just at Frieze, but throughout the NY gallery shows (e.g. Jessica Jackson-Hudgens at Boesky) on a whole. Still trying to figure out the process of Dan McCarthy’s ceramic masks!
4) Thank you Roberta’s (brick oven pizza) from making it on the island…it was a nice al fresco break and budget-friendly.
5) In terms of wow factor…I can’t recall any one booth that hit it high on the richter (not that Richter) scale. Although there were a number that came close like Marian Goodman’s Giuseppe Penone booth and Gavin Brown’s dedicated booth for Jonathan Horowitz’s communal dot paintings.
6) The most photographed booth would have to be Kader Attia’s beer can install (2,798 beer cans to be exact) at Lehman Maupin. Other notables include Korakrit “Krit” Arunanondchai’s denim massage chairs and Kris Lemsalu durational performance where the artist laid underneath a rhinestone-clad turtle shell for four hours daily.
7) Wake me up before you go-go! This year there seemed to be a number of electric monochrome paintings like the vibrant neon paintings by Philippe Parreno at Pilar Corrias.
8) Most stylish ass-resting gallerist chairs were at David Nolan’s booth — large mid-century Richard Artschwager-designed chairs with a “chew on this” attitude.
9) In addition to Lesley Vance, other works had me panting including Math Bass’ Newz paintings, Gabriele di Santis “Harlequin” bike paintings with handle bars, Mariam Bohm’s sculptural prints, Sebastian Black’s Puppy paintings on paper, as well Nick Van Woert’s silk screens…etc.
10) Lastly, if I could take one booth home, it would have to be the Supplement booth that featured multi-media artist UK artist Philomene Pirecki. Love how the artist economizes, recycles (not in the obvious way one would think) and inter-connects her bodies of work. Her dual sided sculptures are my fair faves…as are her paintings are and photography. Want em all!
This year’s NADA New York proved once again to be the cool kid on the block when it comes to art fairs in NY and Miami…and perhaps Art Cologne too. And, after its Miami debut in 2003, the brand remains relevant, influential and as must-see (and be seen) fair for tastemakers, collectors and everyone in between…oh, include four-legged pups too.
I’ve attended this fair for more than 6 years, I think I can safely say that part of NADA’s winning formula is its camaraderie of small to mid-scale galleries (mostly NY) and the artists they represent…ranging from fast-emerging to the steady and strong.
As always, the preview is a high wattage affair of ready, set and GO! Here’s what crossed my path…
Can I get a hallelujah and A-to-the-MEN as the new Whitney Museum has finally arrived! The gleaming industrial strength building is located on Chelsea’s Gansevoort St. and designed by the Italian Pritzker Prize starchitect Renzo Piano. Location. Location. Location. Such a smart strategy for the Whitney to return to its downtown roots, this time at the uber Meat-Packing district sans the seedy grit and grunge of yesteryear. There’s no doubt the new address will invigorate the museum’s foot traffic and destined to become a must-see museum attraction that could translate into newbies to the contemporary art world. And, the good news is that it’s just cobblestones away from fancy boutique hotels, shopping, dining, and of course, the High Line — need i say more. Okay I’ll add one more, the Apple store is a few blocks away to charge up your iPhone (which I had to do after taking a gazillion pix of the museum).
Since acronyms are the way to go (e.g. MOMA, MOCA LA, etc.), let’s just refer to the new museum as “WOTH” as in Whitney on the Hudson. From my observations, this is a major museum milestone, of which other institutions are side-balling is successful debut.
The galleries are generously spacious, and based on the ceiling grids, it looks as though the rooms can be reconfigured to accommodate more intimate sections (like the placement of Calder’s “Circus” sculpture) to wide-open galleries for major sculptures, installs, (like Lee Krasner’s monstrous “The Seasons” painting).
I also took note of the foot-friendly wooden floors which was easy on the feet and relatively soft-sounding in spite of the large crowds…come to think of it, it totally makes sense given Whitney’s performance art programs.
But the biggest take-away is the magnificent alfresco panoramic view from the various floors. Such a sweet treat to give your eyes a time out from the artwork and breath the fresh air, relax and contemplate among the outdoor sculptures, as well as take in the sites of the High Line, West Side highway, neighboring roof tops, the gigantic water tower, NY skylines, and just around the bend the motion of the Hudson River. Think cruise ship….oh heck even Hoboken across the river is a wonderful view.
According to the release…
Designed by architect Renzo Piano, the new building includes approximately 50,000 square feet of indoor galleries and 13,000 square feet of outdoor exhibition space and terraces facing the High Line. An expansive gallery for special exhibitions is approximately 18,000 square feet in area, making it the largest column-free museum gallery in New York City. Additional exhibition space includes a lobby gallery (accessible free of charge), two floors for the permanent collection, and a special exhibitions gallery on the top floor.
According to Mr. Piano, “The design for the new museum emerges equally from a close study of the Whitney’s needs and from a response to this remarkable site. We wanted to draw on its vitality and at the same time enhance its rich character. The first big gesture, then, is the cantilevered entrance, which transforms the area outside the building into a large, sheltered public space. At this gathering place beneath the High Line, visitors will see through the building entrance and the large windows on the west side to the Hudson River beyond. Here, all at once, you have the water, the park, the powerful industrial structures and the exciting mix of people, brought together and focused by this new building and the experience of art.”More
In my mind…aside from the inaugural show, “America is Hard To See” WOTH’s building design and views alone are worth the $22 admission. I can’t wait to see how the next Biennial will be laid out, as well as future exhibitions including abstract artist Carmen Herrera. Hats off to the WOTH!
The Whitney Museum of American Art, founded in 1930 by the artist and philanthropist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (1875−1942), houses the foremost collection of American art from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Mrs. Whitney, an early and ardent supporter of modern American art, nurtured groundbreaking artists at a time when audiences were still largely preoccupied with the Old Masters. From her vision arose the Whitney Museum of American Art, which has been championing the most innovative art of the United States for more than eighty years. The core of the Whitney’s mission is to collect, preserve, interpret, and exhibit American art of our time and serve a wide variety of audiences in celebration of the complexity and diversity of art and culture in the United States. Through this mission and a steadfast commitment to artists themselves, the Whitney has long been a powerful force in support of modern and contemporary art and continues to help define what is innovative and influential in American art today.