We bussed to the Whitney to see the latest rotation of American masterworks from its collection, American Legends–From Calder to O’Keeffe.Wednesday was a light day at 11 am, a good time to come, although admission on Fridays is pay-what-you-wish.
On the way, we stopped in to see the mega-exhibit of Indiana’s paintings and constructions. I was never a real fan but I have to say, the well written explanations next to the works helped me to decode them. I don’t think I have ever seen such insightful museum remarks, which are often limited to the biographical or historical.
The description of Indiana’s herms above, his version of the signposts depicting Hermes and used for travelers in ancient Greece, rendered these otherwise hermetic (pardon the pun) constructions understandable.You don’t need a guide, but if you want one, the Whitney’s tours are free. We also liked his costume cut-outs created for a production of Virgil Thomson’s The Mother of us All.
I don’t know that I can now call myself a devotee but at least I can decipher his art, a first step, I guess. Btw, did you know a large steel version of LOVE (one of nine around the world) sits at 6th Avenue and 55th street? I didn’t. But I do know now that the artist did not mean to convey unalloyed happiness.
The American Legends selection was composed of a smattering of works by major artists–O’Keeffe, Hopper, Joseph Stella (again, a wonderful explanation of his Brooklyn Bridge that inspired Indiana’s)
plus a big helping in some specific areas. I especially loved the powerful war series by Jacob Lawrence,
and works I had not seen before by Oscar Bluemner, who called himself “the vermillionaire” because of his passion for color, especially red. Me, too, Oscar.
Don’t miss the room set aside for the Calders; in addition to the mobiles and stabiles, the Whitney has displayed a large number of its circus figures that the artist joyously animates in a 45-minute video.
The cafe is comfortable, reasonable and serves really good breads and pastries fresh daily–our kind of place.