Great Reason to Go Back to the New Whitney: 60 Years of Frank Stella, A Retrospective!

"The Blanket" - Sculpture by Frank Stella: A Retrospective at the Whitney Museum in NYC.

First Special Exhibition at the Whitney Museum's New Location

When the Whitney Museum of American Art moved from its long-time Madison Avenue home downtown to the Meatpacking District last spring, the people came in droves, with locals, tourists, art and architecture critics all calling the Whitney's new space a spectacular success. And it is! With its bright, airy galleries, excellent traffic flow, and, especially, its three stories of interconnected terraces which not only are pleasant places to perch, but also really help with easing congestion inside, the new Whitney instantly became my personal favorite NYC museum. Ah, but you can't coast on your "newness" forever, and so the Whitney launched the first special exhibition in its new home at the end of October, a career-long look with serious crowd-pleaser potential, Frank Stella: A Retrospective.

"Gran Cairo" at the Frank Stella Retrospective at the Whitney Museum in NYC.

Frank Stella: A Retrospective Show at the Whitney Museum

I spent about an hour wandering through and marveling at the Frank Stella Whitney show last Sunday (and about another 30 minutes lounging on the terraces enjoying this freaky-warm weather), and whatever you might think of art itself–I happen to like it–it's all instantly engaging and entertaining to look at. And, uh, take selfies in front of. The exhibition sprawls across the entire fifth floor of the museum, spilling out into lowest and largest terrace, and displays around 100 of Stella's pieces from the 1950s to today. There are lots of the artist's wild and dynamic "wall sculpture" assemblages, as well paintings (including his iconic, brightly-colored, rigidly-geometric designs), as well as free-standing sculptures, small models (or "maquettes"), and drawings.  

Sculpture on the Whitney Museum terrace, part of the exhibit Frank Stella: A Retrospective.

Frank Stella Assemblages

Like I said this is a fun exhibition to stroll through, with surprises around each corner, and even though there were a lot of people there, it didn't FEEL crowded, unlike, say, recent blockbuster shows at MoMA, where you can't even get close to the art. Anyway, my favorite Stella pieces are the assemblages, with their complex topographical surfaces of wood and metal and rubber, usually painted in some sort of crazy-quilt fashion, the whole thing seemingly dancing across the wall. But even Stella's more controlled work is pleasing to the eye. Yes, it's all a bit corporate-lobby looking, with no real emotional punch, but if you've been meaning to get back to the new Whitney, or are entertaining out-of-town visitors this holiday season, the Frank Stella retrospective makes for an excellent reason to head on over to the head of Gansevoort Street.

"La penna di hu" - Sculpture by Frank Stella: A Retrospective at the Whitney Museum in NYC.

Information about Frank Stella: A Retrospective at the Whitney Museum

Frank Stella: A Retrospective will be at the Whitney Museum through February 7, 2016. The Whitney is located at 99 Gansevoort Street, right on the West Side Highway, and is open from 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and until 10:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday (closed Tuesdays). More information can be found on the Whitney Museum website.

"Kandampat" - Sculpture by Frank Stella: A Retrospective at the Whitney Museum in NYC.

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