Review of "American Legacy"


      "American Legacy"

      Gifts from the Board of Trustees

      The Whitney Museum of American Art



review by Lee Klein


How can one review a bequest but if by request? Just as per a collection of works not yet donated but expected to be bequeathed an exhibition of a donated collection or an amalgamation of different donors gifts is like a meal at a restaurant -the gift in the end is the purchaser's choice. So in reviewing "American Legacy" (an exhibition of works recently donated or otherwise coerced -just kidding) by members of the board of trustees of the Whitney Museum of American Art I will just speak on individual works and other movements in pieces. Looking at "BLT" ( 1963) by Claes Oldenburg ( a piece which I wrote about when a version of it was the Joseph Helman gallery -then located on West 57th street) what strikes me is the soft life given to an edible subject in the form of a toothpicked work. This episodic piece in turn is layered like the ridges of the Brooklyn Hieghts riverside construct. In this comparison of multiple decks and triple deckers; lettuce, tomatoes, and bacon within layers and levels partitioned by bread are as opposed to the Brooklyn side East river waterside drive, the esplanade, and the Brooklyn-Queens expressway. The sandwhich sculpture is a whimsical humorous dialogue between the segments of the of the eatable and its reproduction as art for the eye. The Oldenburg is placed in a room here with Warhols and Lichtensteins. The pop trio is back together again as it was for the show of pop masters at the exhibit where I saw the B.L.T to begin with (at Joseph Helman). They then as now hold their own. So here again exhibited is all the satiric power these artists had before some from this carbonated cartel were left on the stove too long and overcooked.


Jim Dine is present and accounted for with another bathrobed anoyme. Indeed passing a headless painting by is like passing someone similarly dressed in the morning. However this works sanguine shades are nowhere near as annoying as it brothers having take showers rendered in rainbow colors Jasper Johns explodes in multiples. Frank Stella meanwhile is grouped with Ken Noland and Ed Ruscha. The Ruscha here is quite quizzical in its sunset without a sun and in its' saying stating "the act of letting someone into your home". Is this just what the Whitney is saying here? Only does that mean that you are in (our) home ? Or does the home refer to that the fact that the Whitney was allowed into the trustees homes? Or is it that we the public are now allowed into both?


Besides Jay De Feo's portrait of her teeth {just before they fell out from gum disease due to chemicals involved with the art process} and maybe the Noland; from Barnett Newman to Cy Twombly it is all the usual suspects. And one suspects not much to change very soon.


2002 Lee Klein