Believe it or not, Jerry Saltz has lots of ideas about the new Whitney expansion plans:
If I were on the Whitney’s planning committee I’d trust the curators to curate, even if many of their shows would be infuriating. I’d harp on one thing: building enough interior space to permanently display the permanent collection. The Whitney must learn from the Museum of Modern Art’s mistakes. Even after spending over $750 million dollars on their expansion, MoMA neglected to reserve enough room for the greatest collection of modern art in the world. The result borders on tragic. The Whitney plans to build nice-sounding things downtown — outdoor sculpture gardens, roof decks, classrooms, seminar rooms, a research library, an auditorium, a study center, a café, and a bookstore. But none of that will matter if it fails to build enough space for art — and 50,000 square feet doesn’t sound like enough.
As philistine as it sounds, I don’t think the art world cares how the outside of the new Whitney looks. Let starchitect Renzo Piano make whatever kind of artsy statement he needs to make. The art world only cares that the building accommodate the museum’s magnificent collection, and that this space be congenial to art. The Whitney is in the absolutely unique position to tell the largely untold story of American art. Think of their pre-1950 collection alone. It’s impossible to have too many Marsden Hartleys on view (there are no Hartleys on permanent view at the Whitney, MoMA, or the Guggenheim right now). There should be rooms of Alice Neel, Georgia O’Keefe, Lee Bontecou, Arthur Dove, Stuart Davis, Arshile Gorky, and Paul Cadmus. Ample installations of work by Diane Arbus, Ken Price, George Ohr, Florine Stettheimer, Maya Deren, Horace Pippin, and Henry Darger would let us experience some of the greatest visionaries who ever lived. A room of Martin Ramirez would establish that he was maybe the greatest so-called “outsider” artist to ever work in our country. A room devoted to Russ Meyer’s nudie photographs (perhaps installed by John Waters) would be a bonkers bookend to a Warhol room. The museum should play continuous loops of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers dancing cheek-to-cheek in Top Hat; a mad choreographed sequence from Busby Berkeley; Steamboat Willie; and Martha Graham being a banshee. Having all of this on permanent view would change the way we look at American art — and the way American art looks.
Whitney on the Cusp (Culture Vulture/New York)