Published: January 25, 2011
“Legacy: The Emily Fisher Landau Collection,” an exhibition of a selection of works from the historic gift of art pledged to the Whitney Museum in May 2010 by longtime trustee Emily Fisher Landau, opens February 10 and will remain on view through May 1.
Co-curated by Donna De Salvo, the Whitney’s chief curator and deputy director for programs, and David Kiehl, the museum’s curator of prints and special collections, the exhibition, which includes more than 80 works, will be presented in the fourth-floor galleries, which are named for Emily Fisher Landau.
“‘Legacy’ is the culmination of a single collector’s enduring commitment to contemporary artists and to sharing a love of art,” said Adam D. Weinberg, the Whitney’s Alice Pratt Brown director.
Landau’s gift to the Whitney comprises 419 works by nearly 100 key figures in American art. It is one of the most important gifts the institution has ever received.
Landau began collecting art in the late 1960s and since the early 1980s she has focused on building an important collection of contemporary American art. “Legacy” traces many of the ideas that have preoccupied artists in the United States since the late 1960s. Questions about the relevance of painting in the aftermath of Minimalism, debates about representation, “culture wars” and a revived interest in personal narratives are driving forces in the Landau collection.
One section of “Legacy” focuses on Minimalism, broadly defined, with seminal works by artists such as Carl Andre and Agnes Martin, as well as works by John McLaughlin, Rodney Graham, Joseph Kosuth, Martin Puryear and Al Taylor. Another section of the exhibition signals a return by artists to representational and other subjects generally associated with painting by artists such as John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger, Mark Tansey, Peter Cain, and Susan Rothenberg, as well as paintings by Willem de Kooning and Cy Twombly.
“Legacy” highlights Landau’s support of a younger group of artists who engaged in the political and social dialogue in the vibrant downtown New York scene in the 1980s. Important works by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Robert Mapplethorpe, Peter Hujar, Nan Goldin, Keith Haring, David Wojnarowicz and Lorna Simpson deal with AIDS, issues of politics and gender and race.
“Legacy” also shows the longstanding commitment Landau made to several artists: Richard Artschwager and Ed Ruscha are each represented by works spanning their entire careers; a number of works by Jasper Johns provide an in-depth look at his career.
Legacy: The Emily Fisher Landau Collection , edited by Dana Miller and published by the Whitney Museum of American Art, in association with Yale University Press, showcases some of the best art made in the United States during the past five decades.
The Whitney Museum is at 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street. For information, 212-570-3600 or www.whitney.org .
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