Feature

Full House: Views of the Whitney’s Collection at 75

A museum celebrates by looking back on 75 years of American culture.

New York's Whitney Museum of American Art turns 75 this year, said Holland Cotter in The New York Times. To celebrate, it has mounted an 'œattic-to-basement display' of roughly 400 works from its permanent collection. Arranged by theme rather than date, the pieces energize one another in new ways. More important, the show delivers a story—the story 'œof American culture through art.' It reveals a culture of 'œstaggering contradictions: idealism and amnesia, censure and unruled pleasure.'

If the prospect of such an 'œexhaustive show exhausts you,' never fear, said John Zeaman in the Bergen County, N.J., Record. 'œIt goes down easy.' Curators have resisted the urge to cram everything into the museum, and let a few key artists 'œdo the heavy lifting.' Iconic realist Edward Hopper gets a whole floor to himself. The lobby belongs to another of Whitney's favored sons, sculptor Alexander Calder. His Calder's Circus, a 'œdoll-like phantasmagoria of movable circus animals,' is on display, animated in Calder's famous filmed performance. Between these two poles of representation are three trends: abstract expressionism, pop art, and minimalism. Instead of the same old De Kooning'“Pollock narrative, the abstract-art floor includes artists such as Philip Guston and Louise Bourgeois. The same sense of free association can be found on the pop floor, titled 'œThe Pure Products of America Go Crazy.' Mingling with such totemic pieces as Andy Warhol's Brillo Boxes and Jasper Johns' Three Flags are lesser known works by Jacob Lawrence and Man Ray. And Elsie Driggs' precisionist paintings and Claes Oldenburg's Bedroom Ensemble enliven the minimalist section.

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