Charline von Heyl (b. 1960), Boogey, 2004. Image courtesy of Whitney Museum of Ameircan Art
Collected by Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner
Celebrating an extraordinary and transformative gift of more than 850 works collectively given to the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Centre Georges Pompidou by Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner, both institutions will present consecutive exhibitions featuring a selection of works from the gift. The Whitney’s presentation of Collected by Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner opens on November 20 in the Museum’s new downtown home and runs through March 6, 2016. The Pompidou’s exhibition follows the New York presentation, opening in Paris on June 9, 2016. The exhibition is organized by Elisabeth Sussman, curator and Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Christine Macel, chief curator and head of the department of contemporary and prospective creation, Centre Pompidou, with Elisabeth Sherman, assistant curator, Whitney Museum of American Art. An illustrated catalogue documenting the collection will accompany the exhibitions.
Bernadette Corporation, Creation of a False Feeling, 2000. Image courtesy of Whitney Museum of Ameircan Art
This exhibition celebrates this remarkable gift as well as the perspicacious collecting of Westreich Wagner and Wagner by exploring several of the ideas and themes that recur in the collection across generations, mediums, and nationalities: the rise of mass media and the darker side of advertising; the adoption of street style and the punk aesthetic; the decorative arts and their ability to communicate often political messages; reflections on how technology has radically altered commerce, communication, and industry; and the artist as celebrity, among others. Westreich Wagner and Wagner began collecting art in the 1980s and continue to collect today.
Sam Lewitt (b. 1981), Paper Citizen 4322, 2010. Image courtesy of Whitney Museum of Ameircan Art
They have consistently focused their attention on emerging artists, acquiring works soon after they were made, often straight out of the artists’ studios. Many of these artists were relatively unknown at the time, but have since become some of the most heralded figures of their generation – notably Robert Gober, Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, and Christopher Wool. The couple has also pursued a specific interest in photography, building deep holdings of the work of landmark figures such as Lee Friedlander and Robert Adams while also acquiring photographs by a diverse range of artists, including Liz Deschenes, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Annette Kelm, and Josephine Pryde.
Robert Gober (b. 1954), The Ascending Sink, 1985. Image courtesy of Whitney Museum of Ameircan Art
Continuously motivated by the learning challenges posed by new expressions andnew ideas, the two have examined the world around them through the eyes of the artists whose work they follow and acquire; their collection is a unique, personal reflection on the “contemporary moment” as it has evolved over the last several decades. The gift to the Whitney encompasses nearly five hundred and fifty works, representing a cross section of mediums, by more than seventy-five artists and collectives. In some cases artists will enter thecollection for the first time and in others they add depth to our holdings of artists we have championed.
Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC
November 20, 2015 – March 06, 2016