Whitney & Piano
Opened this May, the new building of the Whitney Museum of American Art boasts a dazzling collection of modern art and architect Renzo Piano’s spectacular design, perfectly suited to the Meatpacking District, the Hudson River and High Line Park in New York.
Text: Rodrigo Barría
In the early 20th century, it wasn’t easy for young American artists to exhibit their work. Things weren’t simple, even in cosmopolitan New York, a paradise for any current avant-garde artist. Back then, the norm at galleries and museums was tradition and propriety.
One artist who wasn’t able to find space to show her personal creations or her private collection was Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (1875 – 1942). Despite her lineage, Whitney had to keep her sculptures and other works of art in storage. It seems like a contradiction for someone who was educated by private tutors and even took classes in Paris from Auguste Rodin himself.
In 1914, she founded the Whitney Studio, an unpretentious gallery space, where artists from the U.S. vanguard could finally show their work and get the attention they deserved. A prolific creator and insatiable collector, Whitney owned more than 500 pieces of modern art, which she had generously offered to loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met). Hurt yet resolute when her overture was rejected, Whitney decide to create her own museum. The Whitney Museum of American Art opened its doors in 1931, originally in Greenwich Village. In 1954, it moved to a new location on West 54th Street and, 12 years later, to the corner of Madison Avenue and 75th Street, where the famous Hungarian architect Marcel Breuer imagined the now-iconic New York structure.
Inaugurated in May, the museum’s newest home is located at 99 Gansevoort Street. This nine-floor building seems destined to become an essential stop on the city’s museum circuit, thanks to the quality of the exhibits as well as the building’s design. The award-winning Italian architect Renzo Piano conceived an asymmetrical construction appropriated linked to the area’s industrial past. With ample interior and exterior spaces for temporary exhibits and permanent collections, the new museum also includes rooms for art classes, a bookstore, a 170-seat theater, a restaurant, a café and a gift shop. It’s a great way to spend the better part of a day. in