Posts Tagged ‘whitney museum’

Culture Vulture: Christmas Eve at the Whitney Museum

December 24, 2020

A dreary overcast Christmas Eve turned out to be a perfect day for a stroll through the Whitney Museum (first time there since the onset of the pandemic). We started on the top floor with Working Together: The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop, a community new to me of photographers who chronicled civil rights activism, culture heroes, and everyday black life in the ’60s and ’70s — wonderful shot of Sun Ra.

Next: Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019, whose high point is Liza Lou’s beaded Kitchen, but I also loved Jordan Nassar’s mesmerizing A Lost Key (above) and Jeffrey Gibson’s Birds of a Feather (below).

We poked our heads into Cauleen Smith: Mutualities and watched some of her film Sojourner in which a group of sisters in dazzling outfits take in a recorded lecture on black feminism.

The main attraction at the Whitney these days, though, is Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925–1945, which runs through January 31. The show focuses on three artists — Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco — and the impact they had on their contemporaries. I’ve always loved Siqueiros’s paintings, which seem psychedelic to me, and I made a pilgrimage to the house in Guanajuato where Rivera lived with Frida Kahlo for a time (it’s now a museum).

I was surprised and fascinated to see a bunch of figurative (pre-drip) paintings by Jackson Pollock directly influenced by Siqueiros’ dreamy shellacked surfaces (Landscape with Steer, above) and Orozco’s death-obsessed iconography (the two images below, both called Untitled (Figure Composition).

Also intriguing to learn that Philip Guston got his start studying with Siqueiros in Los Angeles and absorbing his politically charged mural work, as in this sectional model of a piece for the University of Michoacán.

And, as dessert, Kahlo’s beautiful, tender, funny self-portrait Me and My Parrots.

Culture Vulture/Photo Diary: David Wojnarowicz at the Whitney Museum

August 28, 2018

Andy and I visited the Whitney Museum to see the David Wojnarowicz retrospective, History Keeps Me Awake at Night. Here are some pieces that stuck out for me.


The next day I found this cardboard cry for help on the sidewalk next to my closest mailbox. It struck me as related to the experience of urban alienation and despair that runs riot through Wojnarowicz’s work.

Photo diary/Culture Vulture: Andy’s birthday week

August 28, 2016

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We started Andy’s birthday celebration with a delicious dinner (and sparkling dessert) in the company of Ben, Randall, and Hugh at Gastroteca Astoria.

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The celebration continued Friday night with a sunset bike ride down to the Village and a stroll through “Human Interest,” the Whitney Museum’s show with its intriguing array of interpretations as to what constitutes a portrait. Alexander Calder’s wire mobile of Edgard Varese. Diane Arbus’s baby picture of Anderson Cooper. Urs Fischer’s giant sculpture of Julian Schnabel as a burning candle. Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Hollywood Africans. Duane Hanson’s Woman with Dog, so startlingly realistic that I seriously believed it was a little piece of performance art, someone sitting and reading letters all day with a dog at her feet.

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Saturday turned to be a perfect day for a ferry ride to Gunnison Beach in Sandy Hook, NJ, bicycling to and from the Seastreak terminal on the East River. For dinner we met Cesar, Alison, and Bob for Ethiopian food at Abyssinia in Harlem.

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Sunday afternoon I took Andy to the Metrograph Cinema to see the Madonna documentary, Truth or Dare, which he’d never seen. We enjoyed strolling through the Lower East Side and Soho, taking in the new storefronts and street art. We thought our T-shirts together could form the basis of a PhD thesis about the cross-pollination of comic books and gallery art in the late 20th century.

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Culture Vulture/Photo diary: the Whitney with Bob and Phil, GO FORTH with Keith Hennessy, Laurie Anderson’s Midnight Moment

January 27, 2016

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1.2.16 Andy and I started the new year by having brunch with our friends Bob and Phil at Blenheim in the West Village then moseying over to the Whitney Museum. Bob and Phil had not experienced the new building before, so we walked through the Frank Stella show (eh), donations from the Thea and Ethan Wagner collection, and the Archibald Motley show before settling down to watch Rachel Rose’s mesmerizing 12-minute video “Everything and More.”

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1.7.16 Keith Hennessy made his annual visit to New York to participate in the American Realness festival, performing a duet with Jassem Hindi (future friend/ships) and directing his former colleague and mentor Sara Shelton Mann in a valedictory performance called Sara the Smuggler. On his off night, we checked out a show in P.S. 122’s COIL Festival, Go Forth, the directorial debut of Kaneza Schaal, the extraordinary actress who performs with Elevator Repair Service and the Wooster Group. It was an ambitious, dramaturgically complicated piece based on Egyptian funerary texts that didn’t entirely land with me. But I very much admired the photographic installation (by Christopher Myers) that hung along the hallway leading to Westbeth’s intriguingly raw, crypt-like performance space. And who doesn’t enjoy having a free beer handed to you in the midst of a show?

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1.12.16 After dinner at La Carafe on Ninth Avenue, Andy and I and David Zinn swung by Times Square to sip hot cider and witness Laurie Anderson’s Midnight Moment. For the month of January, 54 of the 10 zillion LED screens in the heart of the theater district flashed three minutes of Laurie’s film Heart of a Dog at 11:57, thanks to Sherry Ridion Dobbin and Times Square Arts.

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Culture Vulture/Photo diary: Friday afternoon at the Whitney Museum

November 16, 2015

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Brent was visiting from San Diego, so we met for lunch at Gansevoort Market, where we chatted up vendors at two different food stalls who were Peruvian. By the time we’d finished our delicious ceviche and arepas, the street outside was on lockdown because a movie crew was running vintage cars up and down Gansevoort.

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Eventually released from Manhattan-movie-set bondage, we strolled down to the Whitney Museum to check out the Frank Stella retrospective. I was underwhelmed. The only piece that really excited me greets you when you get off the elevator — the gigantic, textured, psychedelic Earthquake in Chile.

11-13 brent don stella sculpture11-12 stella earthquake detail 311-12 stella earthquake detail 211-12 stella earthquake detail 111-12 earthquake in chile wallplaqueBrent had never been to the Whitney, so I made it a point to show him around. On our way to the spectacular views from the terrace, we came upon an exhibition by a painter I’d never heard of. “Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist” contains a generous sampling of beautiful portraits and several rooms of Motley’s richly hued scenes from black American life, full of vitality and humor.

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By the time we got outside it was a little chilly but the setting sun licked the urban landscape with its golden-hour magic.

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