Few American artists are as instantly recognizable as Andy Warhol (1928–1987). Through March 31, the Whitney Museum of American Art is presenting a major retrospective of Warhol that spans his entire career from illustrator to pop icon. This is the largest monographic exhibition to date at the Whitney’s new downtown location, with more than 350 works of art, many assembled together for the first time. If you have not visited the museum before, now would be a great time to go.
Through his carefully cultivated persona and willingness to experiment with non-traditional art-making techniques, Andy Warhol understood the growing power of images in contemporary life. This exhibition is the first Warhol retrospective organized by a U.S. institution since 1989, and it presents a wealth of new material about the work of one of the most inventive and influential American artists.
The Whitney space is perfect for the Warhol exhibition. Designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano, the building is spectacular. It is all light, glass and open spaces spread across eight floors of galleries, an education center, a large theater and a Danny Meyer run café and restaurant. The Whitney also features over 13,000 square feet of outdoor exhibition space in balconies and terraces with site specific installations, amazing sculptures, and incredible views of Manhattan, the Hudson River and the High Line.
The Whitney’s private collection includes over 22,000 works created by more than 3,000 artists in the United States during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Founded by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1931, the collection begins with Ashcan School painting and follows the major movements of the twentieth century in America, with a focus on Modernism and Social Realism, Precisionism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Minimalism, Postminimalism, art centered on identity and politics that came to the fore in the 1980s and 1990s, and contemporary work.
But right now though, it’s all about Andy Warhol. The Whitney Museum of American Art is closed Tuesdays and is open until 10:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Don’t miss it.
WHERE TO EAT
The Meatpacking District is filled with food and drink options to satisfy any taste or budget, and the Whitney itself has two great dining options run by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group.
Studio Cafe, Whitney Museum of American Art (8th Floor) – a seasonal menu of snacks, soups, salads, toasts with delicious toppings such as roasted eggplant or smoked arctic char, and tempting desserts; beer, wine and cocktails too, prix-fixe supper menu starting at 5:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays when the museum is open late; floor to ceiling glass windows capture attention, and in warmer months, outdoor seating offers sweeping views of the Meatpacking District, the Hudson River, and the High Line
Untitled, Whitney Museum of American Art (Ground Floor) – huge ceilings, tall glass windows on three sides, an inviting bar, and outdoor seating (weather permitting) with views of the river, make this an ideal location for lunch, brunch, dinner or a drink; excellent seasonal menu includes five appetizers, five entrees and assorted snacks and salads, each beautifully prepared and beautifully plated, desserts are irresistible (the triple chocolate chunk cookie has become legendary); with a separate entrance outside the museum, the restaurant has its own hours of operation and is also open Tuesdays when the museum is closed