It appears there’s always a treasure or two that one has overlooked. One has never seen it all. Amazingly, I had managed to never visit either the Whitney Museum of American Art or the Frick Collection on previous trips to New York City.
The first is housed in a spanking new building with an unknown number of surprises of modern art concealed inside. The second, well that can wait for another blog, let’s stick with Whitney for now.
Inside and out
The special thing about the ‘new’ Whitney Museum building is that it offers visitors a gallery of the outside world.Various terraces offer up the natural backdrop Manhattan, construction work and the Hudson River to wonder at.
On my visit this was quite fortunate, as whilst the weather was fantastic for taking in the external sights, internally two floors of the gallery were closed for the installation of new exhibitions.
I could have felt cheated – especially as the management choose not to deduct anything from the Whitney’s $25.00 ticket price while such a high percentage of space is closed to public – fortunately though, the weather was superb. This enabled us to spend a good chunk of our visit on the terraces outside.
A break from the white walled galleries throwing shadows and smiles and generally enjoying a ridiculously warm October day (27C).
On trend: Protest art
Inside, along with items from the museum’s collection there were two temporary exhibitions: ‘Calder: Hypermobility’ and the timely and certainly on trend exhibition, ‘An Incomplete History of Protest’.
Earlier this year, I visited the Tate Modern’s Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power. The Whitney’s Protest art certainly evoked memories of that.
It also underlined for me how in an age of Trump and with the rise of divisive politics of separatism and nationalism, there’s now as much as ever the imperative and vacuum for artists to use their voice and alternative mediums to explore and expose hatred and hypocrisy.
Lacking in movement
Alexander Calders’ mobiles are stunning. They exhibit such a gentle yet powerful presence.
It’s therefore more than a tad surprising that the pieces on display in NYC are static, no passing breeze to get them moving.
It was hard to resist the temptation to blow gently at the mobiles, which explains why I didn’t. Emptying my lungs towards various works of art in the hope of triggering the hyper mobility promised by the title of the exhibition.
Successful Blow Job
It’s often worth remembering that simple piece of advice: if at first you don’t succeed then try try try again.
When it came to blowing at art I followed that mantra. Personally, I think the following tiny clip proves that as far as Calder’s work goes it was well worth giving things an extra puff or two. Not sure why there wasn’t ‘a breeze machine’ installed for the purpose.
Take the Highline to the Whitney
Despite the high ticket price and closed galleries the Whitney goes straight into my list of things to do in NYC. The museum is now also brilliantly situated to be combined with a walk along the Highline and a roam around the Meat Packing District where the sniff of gentrification is almost overwhelming.