Whitney Museum of American Art

New York, NY

(212) 570-3600



The American Century: Art & Culture 1900-2000


Joseph Stella, The Brooklyn Bridge: Variation on an Old Theme, 1939, oil on canvas, Purchase, Whitney Museum

On April 23, 1999 the Whitney Museum of America n Art will launch The American Century: Art & Culture

1900-2000, an innovative program featuring a sweeping, two-part exhibition on this century's art and culture and extensive public programming. The American Century is organized by the Whitney Museum and presented by Intel Corporation, who are collaborating on a major Internet-based program for the Museum exhibition. This collaboration includes an in-depth online extension of the exhibition, an Internet-based national education program, and research into the use of in-museum computer technologies as exhibition information resources.

The American Century exhibition will explore the evolution of the American identity as seen through the eyes of America's artists over the last century, and will examine the impact of such forces as immigration, technology and the mass media on art and culture. The exhibition will be comprised of more than 1,200 works of painting, sculpture and photography, with related materials in architecture, decorative arts, music, dance, literature and film culled from the Whitney's Permanent Collection, private collections and public institutions around the country.

The American Century will be presented in two consecutive parts and will fill the entire Whitney Museum for nine months. Part 1 (1900 to 1950), organized by Barbara Haskell, curator of prewar art at the Whitney Museum, will be on view from April 23 to August 22, 1999. Part 11 (1950-2000), curated by Lisa Phillips, curator of contemporary art at the Whitney Museum and director-designate of the New Museum of Contemporary Art, and Whitney Museum associate curators Susan Harris and Karl Willers, will be presented from September 26, 1999 to mid-February, 2000.

A team of more than 60 advisors on art history and American culture from the fields of architecture, decorative arts, music, dance, literature and film have consulted on the project. Intel has provided the largest corporate contribution ever made to an art museum exhibition to support the organization and presentation of The American Century at the Whitney, and is drawing on its educational, engineering and technological resources in the development of these programs.

Maxwell L. Anderson, director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, said, "As the foremost institution dedicated to 20th-century American art, together with the myriad of programs for developing educational tools based on new technologies, the Whitney Museum is uniquely positioned to organize this important project. This dynamic exhibition will explore the ways in which artists have helped us make sense of America. Our unprecedented collaboration with Intel will have ongoing value for educators, students, people and institutions around the world." Leonard A. Lauder, chairman of the Whitney Museum, stated, "The Whitney has a tradition of embracing new ideas and art. In Intel, we have found a partner who shares our goal of making art and culture as widely accessible as possible, resulting in an innovative program that celebrates the common heritage and future of all Americans."

The American Century exhibition will explore how 20th-century American art and culture reflect and define America's changing sense of self, and can serve as a window into national values and aspirations. Painting, sculpture and photography will be presented in the context of related materials in architecture, design, music, dance, literature and film to illustrate other artistic perspectives that have shaped and reflected a changing American identity and culture. Related materials will include magazine illustrations and books, advertisements, fashion photography, movie posters, comics, architectural drawings, decorative art objects, music recordings, news, film and theater clips, and a retrospective film program. Left: Elsie Diggs, Pittsburgh, 1927, oil on canvas, Gift of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, collection of Whitney Museum

The first installment (1900-1950) will trace the evolution of the American identity from the turn of the century to just after World War II. The exhibition will present icons of American art, including such landmark works as Thomas Eakins' The Thinker: Portrait of Louis (1900); Alfred Stieglitz's The Steerage (1907); Joseph Stella's Battle of Lights, Coney Island (1912-14); Man Ray's Revolving Door Series (1916-17); Edward Hopper's Chop Suey (1929); Grant Wood's American Gothic (1930); Ben Shahn's The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti (1931-32); Georgia O'Keeffe's Summer Days (1936); Jacob Lawrence's War Series: The Letter (1946); and Jackson Pollock's Number 27 (1950). Right: Alfred Stieglitz, The Steerage ,1907, Photogravure, collection of Whitney Museum

Ms. Haskell and exhibition designers Lana Hum, Chris Muller and Matthew Yokobosky have created an installation in which painting, sculpture and photography will be interspersed with small clusters of related cultural materials. The galleries dedicated to the period 1900-1919, for example, will capture America as it entered the 20th century with a youthful confidence about its place in the world. Visitors will see artistic expressions in many mediums that explore a range of themes, including: genteel society and the Dadaists who flouted it; the rise of industry countered by the arts and crafts movement; and artists finding inspiration both in the daily lives of Americans and in symbolist and orientalist fantasies.

The Whitney and Intel are developing one of the most dynamic online extensions of an exhibition ever launched for a museum exhibition. Currently planned to be available online for three years, this technology will extend the impact of the exhibition and bring the Whitney's award-winning educational programs to a greatly expanded national audience of teachers, families, youth and adults. This Internet extension of The American Century will integrate the exhibition content and the latest technologies that use the Internet. This will provide the public and Museum visitors with the ability to easily explore a wide range of information about the exhibition according to their own interests and knowledge of 20th-century American art. It will elucidate the themes of the exhibition and feature nearly 200 works of art from the exhibition along with in-depth contextual material related to the works of art, artists, historic events and social issues of the day. The online extension of the exhibition will be accessible through the Whitney Museum's web site that will link to artmuseum.net, a new Internet-based museum gallery produced by Intel that will showcase online versions of world class art exhibitions like The American Century.

The first phase, launching with the opening of the exhibition in April, will allow users to explore works from Part I, will feature a special area for families, and will include a unique feature that lets users create their own personalized tour of the exhibition. The second phase, launching in September 1999, will include works of art from Part II and special areas for youth and teachers. This online Teacher Resource Center will provide an extensive array of educational materials and distance-learning programs, including those relating to diverse curriculum areas, sample lesson plans for the classroom and primary-source documents.

Read more about the Whitney Museum of American Art in Resource Library Magazine

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 9/20/10

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