Mu­seum re­opens with re-ex­am­i­na­tion of history of art in USA

Timeless Travels Magazine - - ART ROUNDUP -

Whit­ney Mu­seum of Amer­i­can Art, New York Un­til 27 Septem­ber 2015

Drawn en­tirely from the Whit­ney Mu­seum of Amer­i­can Art’s col­lec­tion, Amer­ica Is Hard to See takes the in­au­gu­ra­tion of the Mu­seum’s new build­ing as an op­por­tu­nity to re­ex­am­ine the history of art in the United States from the be­gin­ning of the 20th cen­tury to the present. Com­pris­ing more than 600 works, the ex­hi­bi­tion elab­o­rates the themes, ideas, be­liefs, and pas­sions that have gal­va­nized Amer­i­can artists in their strug­gle to work within and against es­tab­lished con­ven­tions, of­ten di­rectly en­gag­ing their po­lit­i­cal and so­cial con­texts. Nu­mer­ous pieces that have rarely, if ever, been shown ap­pear along­side beloved icons in a con­scious ef­fort to un­set­tle as­sump­tions about the Amer­i­can art canon.

The ti­tle, Amer­ica Is Hard to See, comes from a poem by Robert Frost and a po­lit­i­cal doc­u­men­tary by Emile de An­to­nio. Metaphor­i­cally, the ti­tle seeks to celebrate the ever-chang­ing per­spec­tives of artists and their ca­pac­ity to de­velop vis­ual forms that re­spond to the cul­ture of the United States. It also un­der­scores the dif­fi­culty of neatly defin­ing the coun­try’s ethos and in­hab­i­tants, a chal­lenge that lies at the heart of the Mu­seum’s com­mit­ment to and con­tin­u­ally evolv­ing un­der­stand­ing of Amer­i­can art.

Or­ga­nized chrono­log­i­cally, the ex­hi­bi­tion’s nar­ra­tive is di­vided into twenty-three the­matic “chap­ters” in­stalled through­out the build­ing. These sec­tions re­visit and re­vise es­tab­lished tropes while forg­ing new cat­e­gories and even ex­pand­ing the def­i­ni­tion of who counts as an Amer­i­can artist. In­deed, each chap­ter takes its name not from a move­ment or style but from the ti­tle of a work that evokes the sec­tion’s an­i­mat­ing im­pulse.

Amer­ica Is Hard to See re­flects the Whit­ney’s dis­tinct record of ac­qui­si­tions and ex­hi­bi­tions, which con­sti­tutes a kind of col­lec­tive mem­ory—one that rep­re­sents a range of in­di­vid­ual, some­times con­flict­ing, at­ti­tudes to­ward what Amer­i­can art might be or mean or do at any given mo­ment. By si­mul­ta­ne­ously min­ing and ques­tion­ing our past, we do not ar­rive at a com­pre­hen­sive sur­vey or tidy sum­ma­tion, but rather at a crit­i­cal new be­gin­ning: the first of many sto­ries still to tell.

Run­ning Peo­ple at 2,616,216 (1978–79) by Jonathan Bo­rof­sky

in­stalled on the West Am­bu­la­tory, 5th floor

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.