Whitney Museum Will Unveil the Largest Open Gallery Space in New York

Get ready for the new year.

The fifth floor gallery of the Whitney with the interior wallls removed. Photo: Nic Lehoux.
The fifth floor gallery of the Whitney with the interior wallls removed. Photo: Nic Lehoux.

New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art may have opened the doors to its new Meatpacking home in May, but that doesn’t mean the Renzo Piano-designed building has revealed all of its secrets just yet. In February, the museum will launch a new program called “Open Plan” on its fifth-floor galleries, taking advantage of the largest column-free gallery space of any of the city’s museums.

“To celebrate the end of our inaugural year downtown, we wanted to reveal this space for the first time in its entirety and give artists the opportunity to respond to the site with new projects or to display work from the collection that we couldn’t have previously shown,” said Scott Rothkopf, the Whitney’s deputy director for programs and chief curator, in a statement.

The museum’s first round of programming has included the critically-acclaimedAmerica Is Hard to See,” a massive Frank Stella retrospective, and a debut show from video artist Rachel Rose.

Cecil Taylor in rehearsal at the Whitney Museum, November 2015. Photo: courtesy the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Cecil Taylor in rehearsal at the Whitney Museum, November 2015.
Photo: courtesy the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Throughout the duration of Open Plan, which runs February 26–May 14, 2016, the museum will present solo projects from installation and performance artist Andrea Fraser (February 26–March 13); painter Lucy Dodd (March 17–20); sculptor and earth artist Michael Heizer (March 25–April 10); jazz composer and performer Cecil Taylor (April 15–24); and video artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen (April 29–May 14).

Cannily, the exhibitions will promote frequent visits to the museum, as each artist will present his or her work for just a few days or weeks at a time before ceding the 18,00-square-foot gallery, with its picturesque views of the Hudson and Manhattan, to another.

“The featured artists span a broad range of ages, mediums, and approaches, and we’ve asked them to respond to the space with a light touch and without interior construction in order to lend Open Plan a lively and experimental spirit,” added Rothkopf.

Lucy Dodd, installation view of Wuv Shack at David Lewis Gallery (2015). Photo: courtesy the artist and David Lewis Gallery, New York.

Lucy Dodd, installation view of Wuv Shack at David Lewis Gallery (2015).
Photo: courtesy the artist and David Lewis Gallery, New York.

Kicking things off will be Fraser, with a sight-specific sound installation, Down the River, based on recordings from a prison. Dodd will follow will the program’s shortest exhibition, a four-day stint in which she adopts the gallery as her studio, creating a large-scale painting using unconventional materials such as kombucha, yerba mate, and fermented walnuts. The presentation will also include sculptural furniture constructed from the artist’s canvases.

Heizer will showcase a work from the museum’s collection titled Actual Size: Munich Rotary, wherein six projectors will display images documenting the artist’s creation of an 18-foot-deep hole in Munich.

Taylor will join forces with other jazz musicians and performers to host a series of live performances, while McQueen will show an expanded version of End Credits, and investigation into the FBI file on performer and civil rights activist Paul Robeson.

“Open Plan” will be on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art February 26–May 14, 2016.


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