Video: The Glorious Mess of Art and Light at the New Whitney Museum

It’s not every day that a city wakes up to a brand-new mega-museum.


It’s not every day that a city wakes up to find itself in possession of a brand-new mega-museum. But that’s just how New York found itself on May 1, when the Whitney Museum of American Art officially opened the doors to its giant, Renzo Piano-designed space at the foot of the High Line, in the Meatpacking District (see Does the New Whitney Museum Herald a Golden Age for New York Institutions?).

Truth be told, Strictly Critical’s dynamic duo, Blake Gopnik and Christian Viveros-Fauné, initially had their doubts. (When don’t they?)

Gopnik felt that the older paintings, scaled for living rooms, were being shown in white-cube spaces designed for much bigger, splashier contemporary works; Viveros-Fauné wasn’t impressed by the one-percenter admission charge of $22. Museum’s everywhere seem addicted to growth, as though they’d caught the bug from companies whose shareholders demand a constant uptick in revenue (see Ben Davis on Why the New Whitney Museum Is So Visually Pleasing But Worrying for Art); and neither Gopnik nor Viveros-Fauné quite fell in love with the building’s almost incoherent exterior.

Inside the new Whitney Museum, however, Gopnik and Viveros-Fauné were confronted with such a glorious mess of art and light and air that they just couldn’t keep their doubts alive (poor things). There was simply no way to resist, or deny, the old-fashioned pleasure of wandering at ease among artworks you love—or better yet, art that you look forward to getting to know.




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