Phil and the Stranger. Chuck Close, ‘Phil’, 1969. Acrylic & graphite pencil on canvas. “America is Hard to See”, New Whitney Museum, New York, NY
A day in New York with my friend Jeanne. A visit to the New Whitney. “America is Hard to See”. Indeed.
Intensely emotional. Painfully, rawly exposed. There’s so much greatness in this show. The fifth and seventh and eighth floors —in particular— drew me in. But I must go back for seconds. There was for too much to absorb at once.
Cy Twombly. Untitled, 1968. Oil and crayon on canvas
Alma Thomas. Mars Dust, 1972. Acrylic on canvas.
Mark Bradford. Bread and Circuses, 2007. Found paper, metal foil, and string on canvas.
I can not tell lie. I have favorites. The abstract expressionists on floor seven (an incomplete representation, to be sure . . .Where are Grace Hartigan and Helen Frankenthaler?) for me, are the peak of American modern artistic genius. But of course, it’s not the end, oh no. There’s an ebb and flow to this thing —Cy Twombly, Alma Thomas, Chuck Close, Mark Bradford, Jonathan Borofsky, Cory Arcangel, I could go on and on— what we see is American artists as diverse and complex as their backgrounds, subject matter and chosen mediums. The artwork is exciting and new. It’s distinctly American.
We are complex. We are raw, honest and beautiful. “America is Hard to See”. Yes, it’s true. There’s violence and misogyny and racism and homophobia. There’s fear and sadness and emptiness. But, go see it anyway. It will be more than worth your while.
How I missed you, New York. Thank you, dear Jeanne, for throwing fuel back on the fire.