The Making of the Whitney Museum
Original Whitney Museum on West 8th Street

The Making of the Whitney Museum

The new Whitney Museum of American Art source: whitney.org

The new Whitney Museum of American Art source: whitney.org

The new location of the Whitney Museum, near the High Line in the neighborhood known as the Meatpacking District, has been in the news lately, and has drawn large crowds. Many New Yorkers know that the Whitney Museum has been on the Upper East Side, on the corner of Madison Avenue and 74th Street, for many years. But did you know that the roots of the Whitney Museum of American Art are right here in the Village?

Next Thursday, May 28th, GVSHP will present art historian Avis Berman in a program entitled, “Distilling the American Flavor: Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, Juliana Force and the Making of the Whitney Museum” Ms. Berman is an accomplished author and lecturer. You may have attended the program she did for us in January at the Salmagundi Club about painter and Greenwich Village resident William Glackens. She has written about Glackens, Edward Hopper, James McNeil Whistler, and others.

Former location on Madison Avenue source: whitney.org

Former location on Madison Avenue
source: whitney.org

So now that the Whitney has opened downtown, revisit its original incarnation in the heart of the Village, and the lives and careers of two extraordinary women — Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (1875-1942) and Juliana Rieser Force (1876-1948) — who created the museum and transformed the history of American art.  Their partnership not only brought about the formation of a great museum; they were also responsible for the support of hundreds of artists who had nowhere else to turn.  Among those indebted to Juliana Force and Gertrude Whitney were Village artists John Sloan, Stuart Davis, Edward Hopper, Thomas Hart Benton, and Isamu Noguchi.   In particular, Ms. Berman will detail the hitherto hidden personality of Juliana Force, who rose from poverty and obscurity to reinvent herself as a flamboyant Village bohemian, and became the Whitney’s first director and a standout in her profession.

Portait of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney by Robert Henri source: whitney.org

Portait of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney by Robert Henri
source: whitney.org

Original Whitney Museum on West 8th Street

Original Whitney Museum on West 8th Street

Avis Berman is the author of Rebels on Eighth Street: Juliana Force and the Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as many other books, catalogues, reviews and essays on early twentieth-century American art.

To register, please call (212) 475-9585 ext. 35 or email.

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Ted
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Ted is the Director of Programs at GVSHP.

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  1. […] The Whitney Museum of American Art opened its doors at its new location—99 Gansevoort Street—on May 1, 2015. Founded by sculpture and arts patron Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, the museum famous for twentieth-century and contemporary art of the United States, first opened on West Eighth Street in 1931. The Whitney later moved uptown and beginning in 1966 was housed in a Marcel Breuer-designed building on Madison Avenue at 75th Street. In 2008, the trustees of the museum’s board decided that the Whitney needed a new venue after decades of failed attempts to expand the Breuer Building. The decision was made that Renzo Piano, called “a great champion of public space” would design the new venue. Piano has masterminded over two-dozen art museums and is known for this use of light-modulating roofs, expanses of glass, and blond wood. […]

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