jerry saltz on the new whitney

solving the impossible problem of contemporary art

I spend an above average amount of time in museums, and lately I’ve been wondering just what, exactly, the role of a museum is in the art world, for artists, for art lovers, for the residents of the museum’s city. Jerry Saltz uses the opening of the new Whitney to explore how it might solve the impossible problem of contemporary art.

The museum used to be a storehouse for the art of the past, the display of supposed masterpieces, the insightful exploration of the present in the context of the long or compressed histories that preceded it. Now — especially as embodied by the Tate Modern, Guggenheim Bilbao, and our beloved MoMA — the museum is a revved-up showcase of the new, the now, the next, an always-activated market of events and experiences, many of which lack any reason to exist other than to occupy the museum industry — an industry that critic Matthew Collings has called “bloated and foolish, corporatist, ghastly and death-ridden.”

But not to fret! There’s hope with the Whitney. Go read the whole thing.

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