At a time when debate continues over what it means to be American, Where We Are proposes a framework of everyday relationships, institutions, and activities that form an individual's sense of self. The exhibition focuses on works from the Whitney’s collection made between 1900 and 1960, a tumultuous period in the history of the United States when life in the country changed drastically due to war, economic collapse, and demands for civil rights. Artists responded in complex and diverse ways, and the exhibition honors their efforts to put forward new ways of presenting the self and American life.
Where We Are is organized by David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of the Collection, with Jennie Goldstein, assistant curator, and Margaret Kross, curatorial assistant.
Calder: Hypermobility focuses on the extraordinary breadth of movement and sound in the work of Alexander Calder. This exhibition brings together a rich constellation of key sculptures and provides a rare opportunity to experience the works as the artist intended—in motion. Regular activations will occur in the galleries, revealing the inherent kinetic nature of Calder’s work, as well as its relationship to performance and the theatrical stage. Influenced in part by the artist’s fascination and engagement with choreography, Calder’s sculptures contain an embedded performativity that is reflected in their idiosyncratic motions and the perceptual responses they provoke.
The exhibition is organized by Jay Sanders, Engell Speyer Family Curator and Curator of Performance, with Greta Hartenstein, senior curatorial assistant, and Melinda Lang, curatorial assistant.
95 Horatio Street is a site-specific work by the artist Do Ho Suh (b. 1962, Seoul, South Korea), presented as part of the ongoing series of public art installations located across the street from the Whitney Museum of American Art and the High Line. The work visually reconnects the building facade of 95 Horatio Street with the elevated railway that once occupied the neighborhood. Although today the High Line ends at Gansevoort Street, here Suh imagines what the vista might have looked like in the days when train tracks continued to run through buildings down into SoHo. The digitally rendered image, titled 95 Horatio Street is installed on the southwest corner of Gansevoort and Washington Streets.
This installation is organized by curatorial assistant Christie Mitchell.
Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium is the first full-scale U.S. retrospective in two decades of the Brazilian artist’s work. One of the most original artists of the twentieth century, Oiticica (1937—1980) made art that awakens us to our bodies, our senses, our feelings about being in the world: art that challenges us to assume a more active role. Beginning with geometric investigations in painting and drawing, Oiticica soon shifted to sculpture, architectural installations, writing, film, and large-scale environments of an increasingly immersive nature, works that transformed the viewer from a spectator into an active participant. The exhibition includes some of his large-scale installations, including Tropicalia and Eden, and examines the artist’s involvement with music and literature, as well as his response to politics and the social environment. The show captures the excitement, complexity, and activist nature of Oiticica’s art, focusing in particular on the decisive period he spent in New York in the 1970s, where he was stimulated by the art, music, poetry, and theater scenes. While Oiticica engaged at first with many of the city’s artists, he ended up living in self-fashioned isolation before returning to Brazil. He died in in Rio de Janeiro, in 1980, at the age of 42.
This exhibition is organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium is curated by Lynn Zelevansky, Henry J. Heinz II Director, Carnegie Museum of Art; Elisabeth Sussman, Curator and Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography, Whitney Museum of American Art; James Rondeau, President and Eloise W. Martin Director, Art Institute of Chicago; and Donna De Salvo, Deputy Director for International Initiatives and Senior Curator, Whitney Museum of American Art; with Katherine Brodbeck, Associate Curator, Carnegie Museum of Art.
In her work, Bunny Rogers draws from a personal cosmology to explore universal experiences of loss, alienation, and a search for belonging. Her layered installations, videos, and sculptures begin with wide-ranging yet highly specific references, from young-adult fiction and early 2000s cartoons, like Clone High, to autobiographical events and violent media spectacles, such as the 1999 Columbine High School shooting. Rogers’s techniques are equally idiosyncratic. She borrows from theater costuming, design, and industrial furniture manufacturing, and often crafts her work by hand. This hybrid approach gives Rogers’s objects and spaces a distinct texture; they read simultaneously as slick and intimate, highly constructed but also sincere.
This exhibition is organized by assistant curator Elisabeth Sherman and curatorial assistant Margaret Kross.
The emerging artist Willa Nasatir (b. 1990) creates photographs routinely informed by a cinematic vocabulary, inspired by the shifting landscape and individuals who inhabit New York, where she works and lives. Nasatir’s compositions routinely function as part-still life, part-portrait (notably without bodies), evoking a surreal otherworldly environment—a realm that’s familiar yet simultaneously difficult to pin down. For this exhibition, Nasatir presents a significant new body of work in addition to a selection of earlier works, produced over the past few years.
This exhibition is organized by Jane Panetta, Associate Curator.
An Incomplete History of Protest looks at how artists have approached protest by making art as a form of documentation, social criticism, agitprop, activism, teaching, institutional critique, and radical reimagining. The exhibition foregrounds themes—from questions of representation to the fight for civil rights—that still incite protest today, both at the Whitney and in the world.
An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney's Collection, 1940–2017 is organized by David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of the Collection; Jennie Goldstein, assistant curator; and Rujeko Hockley, assistant curator; with David Kiehl, Curator Emeritus; and Margaret Kross, curatorial assistant
For her first solo museum exhibition in New York, Toyin Ojih Odutola presents an interconnected series of fictional portraits, chronicling the lives of two aristocratic Nigerian families.
Ojih Odutola (b. 1985) creates intimate drawings that explore the complexity and malleability of identity. Depicted in her distinctive style of intricate mark-making, her sumptuous compositions reimagine the genre and traditions of portraiture.
Rendered life-size in charcoal, pastel, and pencil, Ojih Odutola’s figures appear enigmatic and mysterious, set against luxurious backdrops of domesticity and leisure. They, and the worlds they inhabit, are informed by the artist’s own array of inspirations, which range from art history to popular culture to experiences of migration and dislocation. Highly attentive to detail and the nuances of space, class, and color—whether of palette or skin—Ojih Odutola continues her examinations of narrative, authenticity, and representation.
Toyin Ojih Odutola: To Wander Determined presents a significant new body of work alongside a small selection of earlier works, produced in the last year.
This exhibition is organized by Rujeko Hockley, assistant curator and Melinda Lang, curatorial assistant.
Artist and activist Jimmie Durham (b. 1940) has worked as a visual artist, performer, essayist, and poet for more than forty-five years. A political organizer for the American Indian Movement during the 1970s, he was an active participant in the downtown New York City artistic community in the 1980s. In 1987 he moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico, then to Europe in 1994, where he has lived ever since. Predominantly a sculptor, Durham often combines found objects and natural materials and incorporates text to expose Western-centric views and prejudices hidden in language, objects, and institutions. Calling himself an "interventionist," Durham is oftentimes critical in his analysis of society but with a distinctive wit that is simultaneously generously humorous.
Durham's expansive practice spans sculpture, drawing, collage, photography, video, and performance, and the exhibition includes approximately 120 objects dating from 1970 to the present. It is accompanied by a catalogue comprising several scholarly essays, an interview with the artist, a chronology, and a selection of Durham's own writings, both old and new. The first North American retrospective of Durham's work, At the Center of the World traces his remarkable attentiveness to materials and characteristic approach to assemblage while demonstrating his commitment to shedding light on the complexities of historical narratives, notions of authenticity, and the borders and boundaries that try to contain us.
Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World is organized by the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and curated by Anne Ellegood, senior curator, with MacKenzie Stevens, curatorial assistant. The Whitney’s presentation is organized by Elisabeth Sussman, Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography, and Laura Phipps, assistant curator, Whitney Museum of American Art.
For more than twenty years, Los Angeles–based artist Laura Owens has pioneered an innovative approach to painting that has made her one of the most influential artists of her generation. Her bold and experimental work challenges traditional assumptions about figuration and abstraction, as well as the relationships among avant-garde art, craft, pop culture, and technology. This mid-career survey, the most comprehensive of Owens’s work to-date, will feature approximately 60 paintings from the mid-1990s until today, as well as artist’s books made specifically for the show. The exhibition will highlight her significant strides over the past few years, showing how the early work sets the stage for gripping new paintings and installations.
This exhibition is organized by Scott Rothkopf, Deputy Director for Programs and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, with Jessica Man, curatorial assistant.
Experiments in Electrostatics: Photocopy Art from the Whitney’s Collection, 1966–1986 explores the use of the photocopier as a creative tool, from its public emergence in the 1960s to the dawn of the digital era in the 1980s. Despite the machine’s intended function to reproduce office documents, artists inventively utilized it as a camera and printing press to create original fine art prints. They placed objects on the flatbed, distorted imagery in the process of scanning, and manipulated the exposure, density, and saturation settings to achieve imaginative, often unexpected results. Far from “copies,” these still lifes, portraits, abstractions, and collages reflected the ingenuity of their makers. Focusing on three artists and one collective—Edward Meneeley, Lesley Schiff, Robert Whitman, and the International Society of Copier Artists—this exhibition investigates how artists found self-expression through a machine designed for replication.
Experiments in Electrostatics is organized by Michelle Donnelly, curatorial fellow.
Grant Wood's American Gothic—the double portrait of a pitchfork-wielding farmer and a woman commonly presumed to be his wife—is perhaps the most recognizable painting in 20th century American art, an indelible icon of Americana, and certainly Wood's most famous art work. But Wood's career consists of far more than one single painting. Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fablesbrings together the full range of his art, from his early Arts and Crafts decorative objects and Impressionist oils through his mature paintings, murals, and book illustrations. What the exhibition reveals is a complex, sophisticated artist whose image as a farmer-painter was as mythical as the fables he depicted in his art. Wood sought pictorially to fashion a world of harmony and prosperity that would answer America's need for reassurance at a time of economic and social upheaval occasioned by the Depression. Yet underneath its bucolic exterior, his art reflects the anxiety of being an artist and a closeted gay man in the Midwest in the 1930s. By depicting his subconscious anxieties through populist images of rural America, Wood crafted images that speak both to American identity and to the estrangement and isolation of modern life.
This exhibition is organized by Barbara Haskell, curator, Whitney Museum of American Art.
This exhibition will be the first major, monographic presentation of the work of David Wojnarowicz (1954–1992) in over a decade. Wojnarowicz came to prominence in the East Village art world of the 1980s, actively embracing all media and forging an expansive range of work both fiercely political and highly personal. Although largely self-taught, he worked as an artist and writer to meld a sophisticated combination of found and discarded materials with an uncanny understanding of literary influences. First displayed in raw storefront galleries, his work achieved national prominence at the same moment that the AIDS epidemic was cutting down a generation of artists, himself included. This presentation will draw upon recently-available scholarly resources and the Whitney’s extensive holdings of Wojnarowicz’s work.
David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake At Night is co-curated by David Kiehl, Curator Emeritus, and David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of the Collection.