Project Proposal: An Examination of SANAA’s New Museum and Renzo Piano’s [new downtown] Whitney Museum of American Art
“In a time where people increasingly communicate through different media in a non-physical environment it is the responsibility of the architect to create actual space for physical and direct communication between people (Idenberg 18)”. The design of the New Museum suggests the space is open, fearless and alive. The space is a clear reflection of the unpredictable art and quench for curiosity the museum is known for. In 2000, the New Museum was desperate to find a new space which was reflective of mission. The short stretch of the Bowery between Canal and Eighth Street had been home to some of the leading artists, from Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, William Burroughs to Roy Lichenstein , James Rosenquist, Robert Ryman, Eva Hesse, Lynda Benglis, Jim Jarmusch and Maya Lin (Phillips 7). Building the New Museum on the Bowery, at a time when the Bowery was still a no-man’s land was unpredictable and innovative, much like the museum itself. The New Museum was intent on preserving the rough-and-tumble downtown art scene (Ouroussoff). The decision to move from SoHo to the Bowery was an effort to tap into history, argues New York Times writer, Nicolai Ouroussoff. The New Museum did not want trophy architecture such as Frank Gehry’s IAC Building; they wanted to design a good space for showcasing art. They wanted something that would give form to their mission, that preached innovation. Out of the forty-five firms considered, SANAA’s (Tokyo) scheme won out. They won for aligning the New Museum’s mission and program in alignment through their design (Phillips 7). SANAA delivered architecture that would best serve the art and not compete with it. The design brings the art inside to life. The stark white walls, exposed beams and cracked concrete floors all make up the informal qualities that make the art feel accessible.
The New Museum embodies a leap of faith, much like The Whitney’s decision to return to lower Manhattan. The Whitney, like The New Museum has had a long-standing history of experimental art. Since its beginnings innovation has been a hallmark of the Whitney. It was the first museum dedicated to the work of living American artists and the first New York museum to present a major exhibition of a video artist (Nam June Paik in 1982). Other artists such as Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly and Cindy Sherman were given their first museum retrospectives by the Whitney (The Whitney Museum). The Whitney Museum of American Art opened in 1931 on West Eighth Street in Greenwich Village, by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. The New Museum’s move to the Bowery and the Whitney’s return to downtown Manhattan pays homage to the roots of New York’s passed downtown art world. On May 24th, 2011 in a dramatic ceremony on the building site, the Whitney broke ground on its future building in the Meatpacking District.
The initial artists who entered New York City in the 1950s and 1960s established themselves in lower Manhattan, and it seems only natural for the New Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art to establish themselves as cultural anchors of downtown New York. In my final project, I would like to examine the relationship both the New Museum and the Whitney Museum have with the city of New York. How does their design and location reflect the art, which is exhibited inside of them? What is the significance of building the New Museum on the Bowery and relocating the Whitney Museum to the High Line? How is their architectural design reflective of their location? The New Museum called for a tough building, beginning at the street, the sidewalk, lobby, cafe and ticketing all overlap and blend into one another. The boundary between the high-culture of the New Museum and the grittiness of the Bowery is all but erased. The work displayed in the gallery is brought into the street as the street life is brought into the gallery (Allen). The proposed plan for the Whitney, like the New Museum is designed to embrace the energy of the neighborhood through a continual play of interior and exterior exhibition (Whitney of the Future: A Preview). To bring the Whitney downtown will establish the meatpacking district as one of the most dynamic parts of the city, much like the New Museum has changed the Bowery into a more exciting neighborhood.
My project will take the form of a paper. I plan on using all of the information I gather this semester on the New Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art and translating it into my on-going mapping project, which I plan to continue next semester. I have parsed through every source below, taking notes and making an annotated bibliography. My strongest concern at the moment is my lack of information on [new] the Whitney Museum.
Allen, Stan. “SANAA’s Dirty Realism.” SANAA Studios 2006-3008, Print.
Fernandez-Galiano, Luis. “SANAA in Dreams.” Houses: Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA. Barcelona: Actar, 2007. Print.
Guzman, Kristine. “Reinterpreting Traditional Aesthetic Values.” Houses: Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA. Barcelona: Actar, 2007. Print.
Hasegawa, Yuko. “Radical Practices in Constructing Relationships.” Houses: Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA. Barcelona: Actar, 2007. Print.
Idenburg, Florian. “Introduction to The SANAA Studios 2006-2008.” SANAA Studios 2006-3008, Print.
Idenburg, Florian. “Relations.” SANAA Studios 2006-3008, Print.
Kwinter, Sanford. “Bowery Ma.” Shift: SANAA and the New Museum. New York: Lars Muller Publishers, 2008. Print.
Kwinter, Sanford. “Koan.” SANAA Studios 2006-3008, Print.
Ouroussoff, Nicolai. “New Look for the New Museum.” New York Times [New York] 20 11 2007, Print.
Ouroussoff, Nicolai. “For Whitney, Downtown Is Its Crucible.” New York Times [New York] 16 06 2010, 1 Apr. 2012, Print.
New Museum of Contemporary Art and SANAA Architect, Kazuyo Sejima. 2009. Video. YouTubeWeb. 1 Apr 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p189Fxs4lmw&list=UUlOCRQ0RCouCqS_6rY8ft_Q&index=11&feature=plcp>.
Phillips, Lisa. “Past, Present, Future.” Shift: SANAA and the New Museum. New York: Lars Muller Publishers, 2008. Print.
Ralph, Julian. “The Bowery.” Shift: SANAA and the New Museum. New York: Lars Muller Publishers, 2008. Print.
Sejuma, Kazuyo, and Ryue Nishizawa. “SANAA.” Shift: SANAA and the New Museum. Interview by Joesph Gria. 26 11 2007. Lars Muller Publishers, New York. 2008. Print.
The Whitney Returns to It’s Downtown Roots with an Avant-Garde Groundbreaking. May 24, 2011. Video. YouTubeWeb. 1 April 2012. < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kKP9EPXXzM>.
Whitney of the Future: A Preview. May 24, 2011. Video. YouTubeWeb. 1 April 2012. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dztIFdS0aXw.
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