If there were a decisive blow delivered in the rivalry between downtown and uptown New York, it would be the former stealing the Whitney Museum away from the latter and placing it in the heart of the Meatpacking district. When the new Whitney Museum opens on May 1, there are a few things you can expect.
1. Nothing about Renzo Piano’s new building reeks of “statement” architecture. Rather, it is a measured, industrial-elegant structure, which decisively puts the focus on the art.
2. Spread over eight floors, the new Whitney has 18,000 feet of indoor and 13,000 feet of outdoor exhibition space. The main galleries are clean-lined, well thought out and modest; views from the terrace galleries will change the way you see New York.
3. The opening exhibition, the curiously titled America Is Hard To See (we might have called it, America Is Sometimes Best Explained Through Art) is essentially a 20th Century — and tilting into the 21st — narrative onracism, war, family, and politics, culled from the Whitney’s permanent collection. It makes perfect sense as a debut show, and decisively succeeds in its storytelling.
4. Some of the highlights to look for include: David Smith‘s Cubi XXI, 1964 (pictured above), Josh Kline‘s Cost of Living, 2014, Jean-Michel Basquiat‘s Hollywood Africans, 1983, Marisol‘s Woman and Dog, 1963-64, and Jeff Koons‘s Hoover Convertibles, 1981-1987, all pictured below.
5. Look out for featured works from blockbuster artists like Man Ray, Marsden Hartley, Kara Walker, James Rosenquist, Chuck Close, Richard Serra, Ed Ruscha, Claes Oldenburg, and Joseph Stella.
6. A Downtown reboot of Danny Meyer’s Untitled restaurant, in a sleek, glass enclosed ground floor space, under the direction of Gramercy Tavern chef Michael Anthony, opens with the museum.