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The Whitney examines the evolution of 20th-century US art

— January 2014

Associated media

William Eggleston (b.1939), Untitled (Grocery Store), c.1965–1974, printed 2007. Dye transfer print. Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; purchase with funds from Marcia Dunn & Jonathan Sobel. © Eggleston Artistic Trust, courtesy Cheim & Read, New York

A new rotation of ‘American Legends: From Calder to O’Keeffe’

Deemed ‘one of its best [permanent-collection displays] in years’ by The New York Times, ‘American Legends: From Calder to O’Keeffe’ enters its second year on view at the Whitney with a fresh rotation of newly hung works. The exhibition, originally presented as a series of mini-retrospectives of artists from the first half of the 20th century, has been expanded to include post-war artists. In addition to iconic works such as Alexander Calder’s Circus, Edward Hopper’s Early Sunday Morning, and Georgia O’Keeffe’s Summer Days, the new display features later masterworks, including Three Flags by Jasper Johns, a selection of Ellsworth Kelly’s plant drawings and prints, and Andy Warhol by Alice Neel. The exhibition will be on view in the fifth-floor Leonard & Evelyn Lauder Galleries and both the Sondra Gilman Gallery and Howard & Jean Lipman Gallery through 19 October, when the Museum will close in anticipation of opening at its new downtown location in 2015.

‘American Legends’ opened in December 2012, featuring 15 artists who broke away from European traditions in favour of creating independent styles, inspired by American subjects and forms of expression. Curator Barbara Haskell, who organized the exhibition, conceived it to undergo several rotations, with the evolution of the show reflecting the transformation of artistic trends in the United States through the last century.

This latest iteration traces the complex and rich dialogue between America’s pre- and post-war art. As Haskell explains:

Although the work of these postwar artists differs stylistically from that of early 20th-century artists, the two generations share a number of themes and subjects: popular culture, nature abstraction, and the condition of urban life for example. To suggest these cross-generational affinities, we have paired the work of a pre-war and a post-war artist in each of the gallery’s three middle rooms: Stuart Davis with Roy Lichtenstein; Edward Hopper with William Eggleston; and Georgia O’Keeffe with Ellsworth Kelly.

Also on view are Alexander Calder, Burgoyne Diller, Morris Graves, Jasper Johns, Jacob Lawrence, Elie Nadelman, and Alice Neel. The next rotation, scheduled in May 2014, will include a selection of works by Charles Sheeler.

Continuing support for the permanent collection and major support for ‘American Legends: From Calder to O’Keeffe’ is provided by Bank of America.

The Whitney Museum is located at:
945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street
New York City.
Museum hours are: Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11a.m. to 6p.m., Friday from 1p.m. to 9p.m., closed Monday and Tuesday. General admission: $20. Full-time students and visitors ages 19–25 and 65 & over: $16. Visitors 18 & under and Whitney members: FREE. Admission is pay-what-you-wish on Fridays, 6–9p.m. For general information, please call (212) 570-3600 or visit

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