The Whitney Museum of American Art - known as "The Whitney" - is a New York City art museum with a focus on 20th- and 21st-century American art. It was founded in 1931 by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (1875-1942), a wealthy and prominent American socialite and art patron. The Whitney's permanent collection comprises more than 19,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, films, videos, and new media by more than 2,900 artists.
It places a particular emphasis on exhibiting the work of living artists for its collection as well as maintaining an extensive permanent collection containing many important pieces from the first half of the last century. The museum's Annual and Biennial exhibitions have long been a venue for younger and less well-known artists whose work is showcased there. Since 1966, the Whitney has been located at 945 Madison Avenue at East 75th Street in Manhattan, New York City, New York.
The museum displays paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, installation art, video, and photography. Every two years, the museum hosts the Whitney Biennial, an international art show which displays many lesser-known artists new to the American art scene. It has displayed works by many notable artists, and has featured unconventional works such as a 1976 exhibit of live body builders, featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The original 600 works in the permanent collection grew to about 1,300 by 1954 when the second Museum building opened, and to approximately 2,000 with the opening of the Breuer building in 1966. Today the permanent collection contains more than 18,000 works of art from many renowned artists. Artists represented include Josef Albers, Donald Baechler, Thomas Hart Benton, Lucile Blanch, Louise Bourgeois, Charles Burchfield, Alexander Calder, Greg Colson, Dan Christensen, Ronald Davis, Stuart Davis, Richard Diebenkorn, Arthur Dove, William Eggleston, Helen Frankenthaler, Arshile Gorky, Keith Haring, Grace Hartigan, Marsden Hartley, Robert Henri, Eva Hesse, Hans Hofmann, Edward Hopper, Jasper Johns, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Ronnie Landfield, John Marin, Knox Martin, John McCracken, John McLaughlin, Robert Motherwell, Bruce Nauman, Louise Nevelson, Barnett Newman, Kenneth Noland, Jackson Pollock, Maurice Prendergast, Kenneth Price, Robert Rauschenberg, Man Ray, Mark Rothko, Morgan Russell, Albert Pinkham Ryder, Cindy Sherman, John Sloan, Paul Pfeiffer, Andy Warhol, and hundreds of others. A photography collection was begun in 1991.
Independent Study Program:
In 1968, Ron Clark, at the age of 25, established in conjunction with the Whitney Museum of American Art an independent study program (known as the ISP or sometimes the Whitney ISP), which helped start the careers of artists, critics, and curators including Jenny Holzer, Andrea Fraser, Julian Schnabel, Kathryn Bigelow, Roberta Smith, and Félix González-Torres, as well as many other well-known and influential cultural producers.
The program includes both art history and studio programs. Each year the Independent Study Program selects fourteen students to participate in the Studio Program (artists), four in the Curatorial Program (curators) and six in the Critical Studies Program (researchers). It is a one year program that includes many both visiting and hired influential artists, art historians, and critics and involves the reading of theory. Ron Clark remains director of the program.