Upcoming exhibitions include a once-in-a-lifetime examination of the work and legacy of visionary artist Alvin Ailey through artworks, archival materials, and live performances. Artist Natalie Ball also marks her first solo exhibition at a New York museum with never-before-seen sculptures that deepen and destabilize understandings of Indigenous life in the United States.
New York, NY, August 10, 2023 — The Whitney Museum of American Art announces updates to its advance exhibition schedule through fall 2024. Highlighting the Whitney’s commitment to an inclusive and representative view of American art, these exhibitions focus on various mediums, from painting and sculpture to photography, dance, performance, and digital art. A complete overview of the Museum’s advance schedule can be found on the Whitney press site.
RECENTLY ANNOUNCED EXHIBITIONS
Edges of Ailey is the first large-scale museum exhibition to reflect on the life, work, and legacy of visionary artist Alvin Ailey (b. 1931, Rogers, Texas; d. 1989, New York, New York). Widely recognized for the dance company he founded in 1958, Ailey imagined and cultivated a platform for modern dance through his innovative repertoire, interdisciplinary sensibility, and support of other dancers and choreographers. Presented in the Museum’s 18,000+ square-foot fifth-floor galleries, this multifaceted presentation encompasses a multimedia exhibition, daily performance program, and scholarly catalogue to offer a richly layered experience for understanding the artist anew.
Edges of Ailey will showcase an ambitious daily program of live performances, including works from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater repertory and new commissions as well as workshops, classes, and panels. The exhibition situates Ailey within a broader social, creative, and cultural context, illuminating the artists who influenced and collaborated with him, the spaces and scenes he frequented, and the dynamic themes explored within his dances through painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, film and video, rehearsal footage, ephemera, and other archival materials.
Edges of Ailey is organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art in close consultation with the Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation. The exhibition is curated by Adrienne Edwards, Engell Speyer Family Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs, with CJ Salapare, Curatorial Assistant.
Nancy Baker Cahill: Cento is a global, participatory art project comprising augmented reality (AR) and video. Whitney visitors will be able to engage in the Museum’s first participatory augmented reality art project collectively built by the audience.
Cento is a monumental digital, hybrid “creature” viewable via Nancy Baker Cahill’s free 4th Wall app on the Museum’s terraces, soaring and flapping over the Meatpacking District. The work accompanies a video featured on the Whitney’s artport website that explores the creature’s imagined habitat. After watching the video, online and in-person viewers will be prompted to download 4th Wall to choose AR feathers with different properties and add their own feathers to Cento. With each contribution, the creature will change and grow stronger, becoming more adept to the engagement of an ever-expanding community of participants. Cento’s metamorphosis over time underscores the necessity of collaborative action and materializes species’ interdependence and entanglement.
The work takes its name from the term for a “collage poem” composed of lines from other poems, alluding to the creature’s hybrid body and the audience’s contributions. The fictitious interspecies entity features a serpentine body lined with scales and mycelium, cephalopod legs, manta ray wings, and colorful feathers. The chimeric creature draws attention to the care and cooperation needed to survive under changing conditions, pointing to the necessity of symbiotic co-existence in the face of the climate crisis’s existential challenges. Cento asks whether a creature imagined as a collage of human, cephalopod, microbiome, bird, fungi, fish, and machine parts fulfills or even exceeds basic evolutionary requirements.
With Cento, the Whitney continues its presentation of augmented reality projects and draws attention to the impact of AR on artmaking. This commission is part of artport, the Whitney’s online portal for Internet art, and a virtual gallery space for net and new media art. Launched in 2001, artport provides access to original commissioned artworks, documentation of net art and new media art exhibitions at the Whitney, and new media art in the Museum’s collection.
The Whitney’s artport is overseen by Christiane Paul, Curator of Digital Art, with David Lisbon, Curatorial Assistant.
November 17, 2023–February 2024
For her first solo exhibition at a New York museum, artist Natalie Ball (b. 1980, Portland, Oregon) presents a group of never-before-seen sculptural assemblages that deepen and destabilize understandings of Indigenous life in the United States. Drawing from various sources and including found, hunted, purchased, and gifted objects, Ball explores how the lives and meanings of materials interconnect with the artist’s sense of self through the layering of quilt tops and T-shirts; animal hides and bones; synthetic hair, shoes, beads, and newspapers, among other commercially produced items.
Ball, who is Black, Modoc, and Klamath, lives and works in her ancestral homelands in Southern Oregon/Northern California, where she serves as an elected official on the Klamath Tribes Tribal Council. The exhibition’s title, which translates to “we smell like the outside,” is a variation on an expression that Ball associates with her childhood and family in both Black and Indigenous spaces. With this phrase she highlights her artistic aims: to channel her ancestors while reflecting her lived experience, including as a future ancestor.
This exhibition will be on view in the Museum’s Lobby gallery, which is accessible to the public free of charge, as part of the Whitney Museum’s enduring commitment to support and showcase the most recent work of emerging artists.
This exhibition is organized by Jennie Goldstein, Jennifer Rubio Associate Curator of the Collection, with Rose Pallone, Curatorial Assistant.
February 3, 2024 —June 2024
As artificial intelligence tools for image creation enter the mainstream with text-to-image software such as DALL-E, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion, Harold Cohen: AARON examines the historical foundations of AI artmaking and provides a deep exploration of creativity, authorship, and collaboration in the context of AI.
This exhibition centers on AARON, the earliest artificial intelligence software for artmaking and one of the longest-running contemporary art projects. Conceived in the late 1960s by Harold Cohen at the University of California San Diego, AARON was further developed until his death in 2016. AARON’s various manifestations include software that drives plotting and painting machines and software to display imagery on monitors or projectors. The first and only museum to collect the AARON software, the Whitney will showcase artworks produced by AARON and highlight its drawing process live in the galleries for the first time since the 1990s. Featuring the Museum’s collection of AARON’s paintings and drawings, along with two versions of the screen-based and drawing software, Harold Cohen: AARON offers a comprehensive view of AI’s foundations and its role in artmaking today.
This exhibition is organized by Christiane Paul, Curator of Digital Art, with David Lisbon, Curatorial Assistant.
PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED EXHIBITIONS
Previously announced presentations include Inheritance and Ilana Savdie: Radical Contractions, currently on view. Trust Me, a photography exhibition opening August 19, brings together works by eleven intergenerational artists from the Whitney’s permanent collection. Ruth Asawa Through Line, opening September 16, spotlights the work of groundbreaking artist Ruth Asawa and is the first exhibition to examine her oeuvre through her lifelong drawing practice.
On October 4, two landmark solo exhibitions also open at the Whitney. Henry Taylor: B Side celebrates leading contemporary artist Henry Taylor and his unique aesthetic, social vision, and freewheeling experimentation. The exhibition captures an over thirty-year career through paintings, rarely-seen drawings, sculpture, and a newly conceived installation. It features many of the artist’s most recognizable works that convey urgency and fundamental empathy through close examination and sharp social critique. Fragments of a Faith Forgotten: The Art of Harry Smith is the first solo exhibition of artist, experimental filmmaker, and groundbreaking music ethnologist Harry Smith, whose compendium of song recordings, the Anthology of American Folk Music, laid the groundwork for the popularization of folk music in the 1960s. This exhibition introduces Smith’s life and work within a museum setting for the first time and includes paintings, drawings, experimental films, designs, and examples of Smith’s collecting alongside his historic folk music collection. The exhibition proposes new ways to experience twentieth-century American cultural histories.
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ABOUT THE WHITNEY
The Whitney Museum of American Art, founded in 1930 by the artist and philanthropist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (1875–1942), houses the foremost collection of American art from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Mrs. Whitney, an early and ardent supporter of modern American art, nurtured groundbreaking artists when audiences were still largely preoccupied with the Old Masters. From her vision arose the Whitney Museum of American Art, which has been championing the most innovative art of the United States for ninety years. The core of the Whitney’s mission is to collect, preserve, interpret, and exhibit American art of our time and serve a wide variety of audiences in celebration of the complexity and diversity of art and culture in the United States. Through this mission and a steadfast commitment to artists, the Whitney has long been a powerful force in support of modern and contemporary art and continues to help define what is innovative and influential in American art today.
Whitney Museum Land Acknowledgment
The Whitney is located in Lenapehoking, the ancestral homeland of the Lenape. The name Manhattan comes from their word Mannahatta, meaning “island of many hills.” The Museum’s current site is close to land that was a Lenape fishing and planting site called Sapponckanikan (“tobacco field”). The Whitney acknowledges the displacement of this region’s original inhabitants and the Lenape diaspora that exists today.
As a museum of American art in a city with vital and diverse communities of Indigenous people, the Whitney recognizes the historical exclusion of Indigenous artists from its collection and program. The Museum is committed to addressing these erasures and honoring the perspectives of Indigenous artists and communities as we work for a more equitable future. To read more about the Museum’s Land Acknowledgment, visit the Museum’s website.
The Whitney Museum of American Art is located at 99 Gansevoort Street between Washington and West Streets, New York City. Public hours are: Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 10:30 am–6 pm; Friday, 10:30 am–10 pm; and Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 am–6 pm. Closed Tuesday. Visitors eighteen years and under and Whitney members: FREE. Admission is pay-what-you-wish on Fridays, 7–10 pm. COVID-19 vaccination and face coverings are not required but strongly recommended. We encourage all visitors to wear face coverings that cover the nose and mouth throughout their visit.
Carl Van Vechten, Alvin Ailey, 1955. Kodachrome color slide, 2 × 2 in. (5.1 × 5.1 cm). Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. © Van Vechten Trust