Whitney Museum Summer Exhibitions: Edward Hopper and David Hockney
Each time I visit the Whitney in its soon-to-be departed Upper East Side home, I’m struck by how appealingly low-key this place is, especially as compared to those nearby cultural behemoths, MoMA and the Met. Not that the Whitney is a sleepy institution by any means and the opening of its downtown location will surely be the NYC cultural event of 2015, but this iconic Madison Avenue landmark never really gets choked with tourists.
Its size always feels just exactly right. The space is concentrated enough that I can do the entire museum without suffering from total art overload, while also sprawling enough that I never feel cheated out of my $20 admission.
2013 Summer Exhibitions at the Whitney
This summer the Whitney’s offering two large exhibitions with works from their permanent collection, Edward Hopper Drawings and a selection of portraits from the 1980s and early ’90s, I, You, We; as well the American debut of David Hockney’s first-ever video installation, The Jugglers, pictured above. There’s nothing revolutionary here–frequent museum-goers will recognize most of these pieces from visits past–but it’s all fairly engaging and, taken together, makes for a pleasant afternoon of art viewing.
Edward Hopper Drawings, and Famous Oil Paintings
Whitney’s Hopper Drawings exhibition is one of those “process” shows that’s probably more compelling for art students than casual art enthusiasts. Basically, here are a small selection of some of the artist’s great oil paintings (including Nighthawks and, maybe my favorite, Early Sunday Morning), each surrounded by dozens of pencil, chalk, and charcoal studies that Hopper worked through before committing to canvas. Hopper is unquestionably a talented draftsman, and it’s always interesting to see the creative process behind deeply familiar works, but there’s a certain sameness to the show and, not being particularly scholarly in my art appreciation, I found myself skimming through the last few galleries.
David Hockney’s Video Installation: The Jugglers
For David Hockney’s debut video collage, The Jugglers, the artist fixed 18 high-def cameras in a blue and red room and then released a flock of jugglers into the space, directing them to walk in circles while doing their thing with balls and pins and hoops and such. Set to the swirling sounds of a circus calliope, and with overlapping, broken images used to nice effect. The Jugglers is lively and fun but also kind of one-note. Finally, there’s nothing new in ‘I, You, and We’, but these works of portraiture from the likes of Lorna Simpson, Richard Avedon, Tina Barney (below) and Jean-Michel Basquiat (above) are all pretty fantastic, and you won’t be bored seeing them again.
Hopper and Hockney at the Whitney
Hopper Drawings runs through October 6; Hockney’s The Jugglers and I, You, and We through September 1. The Whitney is located on the corner of Madison Avenue and 75th Street, and is open Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and on Friday from 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. with the last three hours being pay-what-you-wish. For more information on all things Whitney, please see the museum website.
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