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Art Exhibits: Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC

Traveling with friends to see an interesting destination is one of the best ways to travel. It’s energizing to take a journey with friends who share a common interest. It’s even more valuable to me if I can combine adventurous travel with a subject matter expert and learn something new while I explore a destination. This winter and spring I traveled to New York City twice to see the rebirth of the Whitney Museum of American Art. It is known informally as the “Whitney”. The Whitney Museum of American Art is located in Manhattan at 99 Gansevoort St, New York, NY 10014.

The “New Whitney” building is stunning unto itself. “Designed by architect Renzo Piano and situated between the High Line and the Hudson River, the Whitney’s new building vastly increases the Museum’s exhibition and programming space, offering the most expansive display ever of its unsurpassed collection of modern and contemporary American art.”

This new Whitney Museum of American Art is set in a thriving “artopolex” area within New York City situated on the banks of the Hudson River. “The new building engages the Whitney directly with the bustling community of artists, galleries, educators, entrepreneurs, and residents of the Meatpacking District, Chelsea, and Greenwich Village, where the Museum was founded by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1930.” I love viewing the Statue of Liberty from the upper floors of this museum. Also, I love lingering in the neighborhood, eating at a local restaurant and trekking the High Line, an elevated urban park and walking trail. This location has it all: water, park, industrial iconic buildings, and views of national monuments.

Of course the art is exquisite from the permanent collection and the rotating current exhibition. I especially want to point out that the Frank Stella: A Retrospective was my favorite from the two visits this year because you walk into his world of art when you see these larger-than-life paintings on the walls. After the Whitney Museum of American Art, this exhibit traveled to Fort Worth, Texas and opened in April at The Modern.

I highly recommend a trip to Ft. Worth to see this gem of a show; I’m going to attend in early June. I value his use of color, scale, and design to create a sense of space like no other. Frank Stella pushes painting to a level rarely experienced. It’s useful to read the art critic’s opinions about these exhibitions. I use them as information but rarely use it to stop me from a visit. Here are two points of view by Deborah Solomon and Roberta Smith.

There are many ways to engage a viewer at an art exhibition such as using a smart phone or tablet application, attending a talk or lecture about the exhibition, and viewing online digital images which entice you to see them in person at the museum. My favorite is the exhibition catalogue, usually written by experts in their field and museum professionals with strong art history backgrounds. From the book review, here’s peek into the Frank Stella: A Retrospective catalogue:

“The visual story told by those plates is the subject of the book’s three essays. Adam Weinberg, the Whitney’s director, writes nicely about Stella’s early years and training and how they might have led him toward radically new kinds of paintings. Michael Auping, the chief curator at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (where Stella’s show opens in April), tracks how one set of colors, shapes and spaces leads to the next across Stella’s career. Over 60 years, Auping concludes, “Stella has consistently, emphatically, and creatively considered the relationship between materiality, illusionistic space, and three-dimensional space.”

Whether you are a casual observer or art, a dedicated student studying art or a lover of all things visual, art destination travel to a well-curated museum can tantalize your senses on many different levels. It’s well-worth the time to journey with friends, enjoy their company, companionship and good times in the splendor of visual beauty.

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