At the turn of the twentieth century, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, an heiress and sculptor born to one of America’s wealthiest families, began to assemble a rich and highly diverse collection of modern American art. This group of objects, combined with a trove of new works purchased around the time of the Whitney Museum’s opening in 1931, came together to form the founding collection. This exhibition features a selected group of works from the approximately 1,000 objects in the Whitney’s founding collection, including iconic paintings by artists such as Stuart Davis, Charles Sheeler, George Bellows, Rockwell Kent, Edward Hopper, and Georgia O’Keeffe, as well as works by lesser-known artists. Co-curated by Barbara Haskell and Sasha Nicholas.
Breaking Ground: The Whitney’s Founding Collection is the first in a multiyear series of exhibitions aimed at reassessing the museum’s collection. Unfolding in chronological order over a two year period, these exhibitions will explore overlooked developments in American art and reconsider iconic figures and masterworks within new frameworks and contexts.