The Whitney Opens with a winner

Let’s cut to the chase: the Whitney Museum of American Art’s inaugural show in its new home in the Meatpacking District, “America Is Hard to See,” is outstanding. With about 600 works by a little over 400 artists, it offers a history of American art—and America—that is richly textured and that teems with beloved classics and electrifying surprises. I am in love with it, and I suspect I will not be the only one.

The opening of Renzo Piano’s building, which gives the Whitney about 63,000 square feet of exhibition space (inside and out), nearly twice what it had in the Breuer Building on the Upper East Side, was always going to be the event of the season in New York, but this exhibition, which borrows its title from a Robert Frost poem, means that we can all truly rejoice. It is a thrilling development for the city, and I am already fantasizing about—and bracing myself for—the wave of soon-to-be artists who will grow up with this space and be inspired by it.

But for now, while the show runs, we get to savor it. Countless minor, subtle decisions have yielded an exhibition that is by turns joyous, sinister, celebratory, and mournful. It is deeply considered, and deeply inspiring. I am looking forward to spending many long days with it.


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