Near the end of the modern art era emerged what is often referred to as “the art of today” – contemporary art.
Not always straightforward yet always open for interpretation, contemporary art has been a staple in American art history, thanks to Pop Art pioneers like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Since then, the contemporary art movement has grown to include photorealism, conceptualism, installation art, earth art and performance art. On the following pages, explore two influential American contemporary art museums and the most famous art fair in the world.
WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART // NEW YORK, NY
Overlooking New York’s famous High Line and the Hudson River, the Whitney offers an expansive indoor and outdoor exhibition space that boasts the best in modern and contemporary American art. The museum’s building, a piece of architectural art itself, is located in the Meatpacking District in New York City and was designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano. The collections within its walls include over 23,000 works of art created by more than 3,000 American artists.
The Whitney was founded in 1930 by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, an advocate and champion for American artists. After realizing the hurdles that artists had to overcome to sell their masterpieces, Gertrude Whitney purchased and assembled her own collection and eventually opened her own museum called the Whitney Museum of American Art – the first museum to solely focus on the art and artists of America. Since its inception and through several building expansions, the Whitney has featured one of the finest permanent art collections in the world, as well as a varied schedule of exhibition programs. The museum consistently purchases works of art within the year they are created, providing a platform for emerging artists.
Besides its impeccably-designed building, stunning New York City views and some of the finest art collections in the world, the Whitney is also known for the Biennial – the museum’s ongoing, signature-collection series. The Biennial, introduced by its founder Gertrude Whitney in 1932, is the longest-running continuous exhibition in the country to feature the latest developments in American art and culture. The influential 2019 Whitney Biennial exhibition will be on display May 17 through Sept. 22.
This year let Jet Linx take you to the Big Apple, where you can explore the city and appreciate art at the Whitney. The 2019 schedule at the Whitney won’t disappoint with its promising list of collections, including Andy Warhol – From A to B and Back Again, where the non-traditional art techniques and innovative experiments of Warhol meet the 21st century. The Warhol collection will be displayed through March 31 and includes over 350 works of art. Through April 14, the Whitney will feature Programmed: Rules, Codes and Choreographies in Art, 1965-2018 – a unique compilation of video and computational art based on instruction, rules and code. Programmed was created to show how technology has shaped rules in art.
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THE MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORY ART // LOS ANGELES, CA
In just a short period of time, The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles, California, has quickly become one of the most extraordinary collections of contemporary art in the world. Since its inception in 1979, the museum’s diverse, permanent collection has expanded to include around 7,000 pieces of some of the finest American and European art in the world. Each unique artwork holds historic significance in the contemporary art movement with some dating back to the 1940s. MOCA continues to adapt and evolve as the definition of art changes over time. The museum is dedicated to the collection, preservation and presentation of art and embraces contrasting perspectives from spectators.
MOCA’s exhibitions feature paintings, sculptures, video and performance art by key figures in art including Roy Lichtenstein and Mark Rothko. Due to its astonishing growth, MOCA is comprised of three venues – The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, MOCA Pacific Design Center and MOCA Grand Avenue. Conceptualized by architect Arata Isozaki in 1986, MOCA Grand was designed to reflect the Los Angeles culture at the time and is now the flagship location for the museum’s main galleries. In addition to its sprawling campus in Los Angeles, the museum also acquired Double Negative – a work of land art by artist Michael Heizer located in the Moapa Valley near Overton, Nevada. Double Negative was constructed in 1969 and is one of the few remaining pieces of land art in existence.
Just a short 40-minute drive from the beach and situated in the heart of L.A., MOCA is the perfect vacation destination for any art enthusiast. This year, museum visitors can experience MOCA’s impressive 2019 exhibition lineup including the highly anticipated work of Laura Owens, a Los Angeles-based artist. With her innovative painting techniques and concepts, Owens has been considered a contemporary art pioneer for over 20 years. “Laura Owens is one of the absolutely crucial figures in the development of painting over the past three decades,” said MOCA Senior Curator Bennett Simpson. “Her sense of experimentation, including but surpassing questions of technique, has been highly influential and a wonder to behold. Laura’s history is deeply entwined with the history of this museum, and it is an honor to bring this acclaimed exhibition to Los Angeles.” Owens’ exhibition includes around 60 paintings from the mid-1990s to present and will be on display through March 25.
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FRIEZE ART FAIR // NEW YORK, NY & LOS ANGELES, CA
Experience contemporary art beyond the museum walls this year at Frieze Los Angeles and New York – international art fairs that feature the most talked-about galleries around the world.
Frieze is comprised of several contemporary art publications and international art fairs in New York, London and now Los Angeles. Founded by Amanda Sharp, Matthew Slotover and Tom Gidley in 1991, Frieze made its start with the launch of frieze magazine – a leading publication of contemporary art and culture. To satisfy the rising demand and appreciation for contemporary art, they established Frieze London contemporary art fair in 2003, quickly becoming one of the most influential art fairs in the world. Coinciding with the London fair is Frieze Masters – an art fair devoted to art from ancient to modern (art beyond the contemporary era). Then in 2012, Frieze brought the famous fair to the U.S. and introduced Frieze New York, taking place every May.
This year the fair will roll out the red carpet in Hollywood to debut Frieze Los Angeles at Paramount Pictures Studios – a historical film studio lot. With its internationally recognized museums and artists, Los Angeles joins New York and London as one of the leading art capitals in the world. Premiering Feb. 14, Frieze Los Angeles will feature around 70 of the most highly-anticipated contemporary art galleries, as well as a diverse program of conversations, artists’ projects and film. “So many great artists and writers have lived and worked in Los Angeles, a city with an incredibly rich landscape of museums, galleries and art schools that play a pivotal role in the international art world. Frieze Los Angeles will add an exciting new dimension to this thriving cultural scene,” said Victoria Siddall, Director of Frieze Fairs. “As with all our fairs, Frieze Los Angeles will be at the heart of a dynamic week during which international collectors, curators and artists will come together to engage with and appreciate the city and everything that makes it great.”
Following Frieze Los Angeles is the 8th Annual Frieze New York, which will feature the world’s most significant contemporary art from over 1,000 emerging and iconic artists. The 2018 New York fair featured an astounding 197 galleries from 30 countries. This year, the fair will be held May 2 to 5 on Randall’s Island Park, Manhattan – a unique island oasis in the middle of New York City. Beyond visual arts, visitors can experience a series of talks, live performances and some of the city’s widely-acclaimed restaurants. The fair is always evolving with new exhibitors, and fresh content. Frieze New York Director Loring Randolph described the innovative layout of the art fair. “One of the unique advantages that we have as a fair is the continued practice of constructing our own environment. In my experience, artists and gallerists regularly redesign their gallery spaces as part of the exhibition process. It is with this spirit in mind that we hope the new fair layout will be fresh and exciting.”