On a sultry summer Friday evening, I made my first trip to the new Whitney Museum – beautifully situated in the Meatpacking District along the Hudson River and overlooking the southernmost entrance to the High Line.
Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the asymmetrical, very sculptural steel-and-glass edifice feels comfortable in its industrial surroundings. With nine stories, it doesn’t overwhelm the gentrified neighborhood.
The new space is a series of indoor and outdoor galleries. The latter consists of cascading terraces while indoors hosts a huge amount of flexible gallery space. The open interior spaces soar upwards, and are bright and airy with floor to ceiling windows in many places, and huge vista windows opposite couches for rest and scenic appreciation.
The visitors on terraces take selfies, me included, from every vantage point with skyline views of uptown, downtown, the east side, and west to New Jersey. I particularly liked the most extreme overhang. It felt a bit like an overlook on a ship.
An overwhelmingly good experience with the art of the architecture and a rather underwhelming experience with the Whitney’s exhibits – or maybe its curation. One of them has left me not quite fulfilled. While I love seeing the Whitney’s expansive, iconic works of Alexander Calder including his Circus (1926-31) on view, and many other fine pieces, I’ve never really come away from the Whitney with a strong point of view on American Art. Maybe it’s not possible to facilitate one view on a country so large with so many artists influenced by their location and cultures.
Perhaps with the new location and expanded space, here’s hoping that the museum will redefine its place as a showcase for American artists and their movement.
Have you visited the new Whitney yet? What’s your take?