Featured, History

David Whitney

David Grainger Whitney

b. March 28, 1939 Worcester, Massachusetts
d. June 12, 2005 New York, New York

Although Philip Johnson’s biographer Franz Schulze referred to him as a “wife” and he identified himself as the homemaker, David Grainger Whitney was an accomplished curator and editor, an avid art collector and gardener, a loyal friend to many artists, an art adviser to New York’s powerful elite, and an advocate of contemporary art. In contrast to his outspoken partner of forty-five years, Philip Johnson, Whitney was an éminence grise, an art world insider who preferred to maintain his privacy. Whitney’s circle of friends included Modern masters such as Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Oldenburg, Frank Gehry, Frank Stella, Ken Price, among others. Whitney described the development of these relationships simply as “I became close to these people who are now all gods. But they weren’t then.” However, from a historical perspective, this attests to his keen eye for emerging talent, as well as his deep understanding of and appreciation for the creative mind and artistic expression.

Upon his death, in addition to his bequest to the Trust for Historic Preservation, he bequeathed forty-four artworks to The Menil Collection which included a significant collection of 17 drawings by Jasper Johns, as well as his art library from his New York apartment and his curatorial papers that consisted of engagement notebooks, artist and exhibition files on David Salle, Franz Kline, Michael Heizer, Claes Oldenburg, Frank Stella, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, and Jasper Johns; his exhibitions at Art Museum of South Texas Corpus Christi; and files about Green Gallery, New York, dating from 1960–1997. His gifts to The Menil Collection and its archives formed the foundation for Jasper Johns’ catalogue raisonne.

Whitney’s bequest to the National Trust for Historic Preservation was unrestricted and allowed for an estate sale to raise proceeds. A single owner sale was organized by Sotheby’s in November 2006 which raised over $13 million. The NTHP directed these funds specifically to the site’s endowment for the maintenance and operations of the Glass House.

The NTHP did not sell the entire contents of the estate, and in fact, kept and accessioned objects of interpretative value. This included several artworks, including paintings by David Salle and Julian Schnabel, photographs by Lynn Davis and Cindy Sherman and sculptures by Michael Heizer and Alessandro Twombly, among other works. A study collection of antique, modern and contemporary design objects and a wide-ranging library including books on art, architecture, craft, design, gardening and landscape, as well as cookbooks, fiction, and music cd’s is currently being organized, as well as an archive of personal papers, clippings, and ephemera.

Education

1953–56 The Loomis Institute (now Loomis Chaffee School), Windsor, Connecticut
1956–58 Woodstock Country School, Woodstock, Vermont
1958–63 B.F.A. (Interior Architecture), Rhode Island School of Design, Providence

Professional History

1963 – Department Assistant, Department of Exhibitions, The Museum of Modern Art, New York

1964–65 – Gallery Assistant, Green Gallery, New York

1965 – Performer, Washes, a performance by Claes Oldenburg, Al Roon’s Health Club, New York City, May 22, 1965

1965–66 – Gallery Assistant, Leo Castelli Gallery, New York

1965–66 – Studio Assistant, Jasper Johns

1967 – Publisher, Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn)
Factory Additions, New York
• Printed by Aetna Silkscreen Products, New York.
• Portfolio of ten screen-prints
• Signed edition of 250

1967 – Guest Curator and Editor, Leo Castelli: Ten Years, Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, February 4—26, 1967
• Artists exhibited: Richard Artschwager, Lee Bontecou, John Chamberlain, Nassos Daphnis, Edward Higgins, Jasper Johns, Donald Judd, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Morris, Larry Poons, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Salvatore Scarpitta, Frank Stella, Cy Twombly, and Andy Warhol
• Book includes texts by William C. Agee, Lawrence Alloway, Irving Blum, John Cage, Otto Hahn, Thomas B. Hess, Ekkeb H. Johsnon, Max Kozloff, Philip Leider, Annette Michelson, Pierre Restany, Barbara Rose, Robert Rosenblum, William S. Rubin, William Seitz, Alan Solomon, Leo Steinberg, Calvin Tomkins, and Yoshiaki Tono

1967 – Guest Curator, Special Exhibition, Kykuit, Pocantico Hills, New York
• One-week exhibition commissioned by Nelson A. Rockefeller, organized for occasion of Margaretta “Happy” Rockefeller’s birthday
• 35 Artworks including works by Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Claes Oldenburg, and Frank Stella

1968 – Publisher, Campbell’s Soup I
Factory Additions, New York
• Printed by Salvatore Silkscreen Company, New York
• Portfolio of ten screen-prints
• Signed edition of 250

1968 – Guest Curator, Bruce Nauman, Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, January 27–February 17, 1968
• Artist’s first solo exhibition
Neon Templates of the Left Half of My Body Taken at Ten Inch Intervals (1966) from the collection of the Glass House exhibited.

1969 – Publisher, Campbell’s Soup II
Factory Additions, New York
• Printed by Salvatore Silkscreen Company, New York.
• Portfolio of ten screen-prints
• Signed edition of 250

1969–71 – David Whitney Gallery, New York
• Artists exhibited: Neil Jenney, Jasper Johns, Ronnie Landfield, Ken Price, Ken Showell, Lawrence Stafford, Lewis Stein, Gary Stephan, John Tweddle, and Philip Wofford

1970 – Publisher, Flowers
Factory Additions, New York
• Printed by Aetna Silkscreen Products, New York.
• Portfolio of ten screen-prints
• Signed edition of 250

1972 – Guest Curator (Director of Exhibition), Johns, Stella, Warhol: Works in Series, Art Museum of South Texas, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, October 4–November 26, 1972
• Inaugural exhibition for new art museum
• Museum designed by Philip Johnson
Philip Johnson (1972) by Andy Warhol from the collection of the Glass House exhibited.
Darabjerd I (1967) by Frank Stella from the collection of the Glass House exhibited.

1974 – Guest Curator (Director of Exhibition), Eight Artists: Dan Christensen, Neil Jenney, Don Judd, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Gary Stephan,Cy Twombly, Peter Young, Art Museum of South Texas, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, February 8 – March 24, 1974
• Exhibition travels to Miami Art Center, Florida
Empire II (1961) by Robert Rauschenberg from the collection of the Glass House exhibited.

1977 – Installation Curator, Early Tin Toys: Collection of Bernard Barenholtz, Hurlbutt Gallery, Greenwich Library, Greenwich, Connecticut, December 1977
• Exhibition curated by Sandy Brant

1977-78 – Guest Curator, Jasper Johns, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, October 17, 1977–January 22, 1978
• Exhibition catalog written by Michael Crichton
• Exhibition travels to the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, West Germany; Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, France; Hayward Gallery, London, United Kingdom; Seibu Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
• First solo artist exhibition at Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, France

1979 – Guest Curator, Cy Twombly: Paintings and Drawings 1954-1977, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
April 10–June 10, 1979
• Edits exhibition catalog
• Exhibition catalog includes new essay by Roland Barthes; chronology by Heiner Bastian; foreword by Tom Armstrong,

1979-80 – Guest Curator, Andy Warhol: Portraits of the 70s, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, November 20, 1979–January 27, 1980
• Edits exhibition catalog
• Exhibition catalog includes essay by Robert Rosenblum; foreword by Tom Armstrong

1980 – Installation Curator, Andy Warhol: 10 Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century, Jewish Museum, New York, September 17, 1980 – January 4, 1981
• Curated by Guest Curator Susan W. Morganstein
• Exhibition travels to the Akron Art Museum in Akron, Ohio

1981–2005 – Board of Directors, George Pompidou Art & Cultural Foundation, Los Angeles, California

1982–83 – Guest Curator, Jasper Johns: Savarin Monotypes, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, November 10, 1982–January 9, 1983

1983 – Professional Advisory Committee, Art in Public Places, Miami, Florida

1984 – Project Director (Editor-in-Chief),  Jasper Johns: Drawings 1954-1984, by Daniel Shapiro and edited by Christopher Sweet, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York (1984)

1984–85 – Adjunct Curator, Michael Heizer: Dragged Mass Geometric, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York;
June 27–September 1, 1985
• Exhibition catalog includes interview with Artist by David Whitney

1986 – Installation Curator, Eric Fischl, Whitney Museum of American Art, 2nd Floor Gallery, February 18-May 11, 1986
• Travelling exhibition organized by the Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Canada; Curated by Bruce Ferguson

1986-87 – Installation Curator, David Salle, Whitney Museum of American Art, January 17-March 29, 1987
• Travelling exhibition organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Curated by Janet Kardon
Common Reader (1981) from the collection of the Glass House exhibited.
Miner (1985) from the collection of the Glass House exhibited.

1988 – Editor, Eric Fischl by Peter Schjeldahl, Art in America and Stewart, Tabori & Chang, New York (1988)

1990 – Publisher, In the Manor of Nietzsche: Aphorisms around and about Architecture by Jeffrey Kipnis, Calluna Farms Press (1990)
• Printed by Michael and Winifred Bixler; Bound by Moroquain
• Signed edition of 200

1990 – Contributor, Michael Heizer, Waddington Galleries, London, January 31 –February 24, 1990
• Exhibition catalog includes interview with Artist by David Whitney

1991 – Installation Curator, The Drawings of Jasper Johns, Whitney Museum of American Art, 3rd Floor Galleries, February 21-April 7, 1991
• Travelling exhibition organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Curated by Nan Rosenthal and Ruth E. Fine

1992 – Guest Curator, Ken Price, The Menil Collection, Houston, May 28 – August 16, 1992
• Exhibition opens first at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, March 8-May 10, 1992
• Exhibition catalog includes essays by Walter Hopps and Edward Lebow

1992 – Project Director (Editor), Brice Marden: Paintings and Drawings, by Klaus Kertess, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York (1992)

1993 – Co-Editor with Jeffrey Kipnis, Philip Johnson: Glass House, Pantheon Books, New York (1993)

1993 Contributor, James Rosenquist: Serenade for the Doll After Claude Debussy or Gift Wrapped Dolls/Masquerade of the Military Industrial Complex Looking Down on the Insect World, Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, March 20-April 17, 1993.
• Exhibition catalog includes interview with Artist by David Whitney

1993–94 – Advisory Committee, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1994 – Guest Curator, Franz Kline: Black & White, 1950-1961, The Menil Collection, Houston, September 8–November 27, 1994.
• Exhibition travels to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago

1994 – Editor, David Salle: 1979-1994 by Lisa Liebmann; designed by Richard Pandiscio, Rizzoli (1994)
• Artist’s first monograph

1995–2005 – President, Andy Warhol Authentication Board, New York

1997–2004 – Board of Trustees, The Menil Collection, Houston

1999 – Editor, Monument by Lynn Davis, Arena Editions, Sante Fe, New Mexico (1999)
• Book includes texts by Patti Smith and Rudolph Wurlitzer; Concept by James Crump; Art direction and design by Elsa Kendall.

2002–2005 – Chairman, National Council, Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, Biloxi, Mississippi

2004 Guest Curator, Willem de Kooning: A Centennial Exhibition, Gagosian Gallery, New York, New York, April 24 – June 19, 2004.
• Editor of exhibition catalog
• Exhibition catalog includes essays by Edy de Wilde, Tom Ferrara, Richard Shiff; and previously published interviews with the artist

2005 Co-Publisher and Editor, Mattia Bonetti: Drawings, Calluna Farms Press with Luhring Augustine Gallery (2005)
• Book includes text by Carol Vogel
• Printed by Trifolio, Verona, Italy

David Whitney Gallery
53 East 19th Street
New York, New York

Exhibition History

The following exhibition history was reconstructed from exhibition reviews, listings, and advertisements in The New York Times from 1969 to 1971 and may not be complete.

1969

Jasper Johns: Lithographs and Etchings
May 3 – 27

Ronnie Landfield, Ken Showell, Lawrence Stafford, Lewis Stein, Philip Wofford
September 28 – October 14

Gallery Closing, Vietnam Moratorium
October 15

Ronnie Landfield
October 26 – November. 11

Ken Showell. Paintings
November 9 – December. 9

Lewis Stein. Paintings
December 14, 1969 – January. 6, 1970

1970

Neil Jenney. Sculpture
November 8 – December 7

Lewis Stein. Recent Paintings
December 13, 1970 – January 5, 1971

1971

Kenneth Price. Sculpture
January 24 – February 2

Philip Wofford
April 8 – 28

Lewis Stein. To
September 26 – October 12

Gary Stephan
November 14 – December 7

Other / Related

1996

Important Prints By Jasper Johns from the Collection of David Whitney, Christie’s
Viewing: November 2, 10am-5pm November 3, 1pm-5pm, November 4, 5 & 6, 10am-5pm; Auction: November 7 at 11:30am;

2006

An American Visionary: The Collection of David Whitney: Sold to Benefit the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Sotheby’s
Exhibition: November 11 – 14, 10am-5pm; November 15, 10am-1pm; Auction: November 16, 10am and 2pm

2008

Contemporary Art: Morning Auction, Sotheby’s
Exhibition: May 10 – 13, 10am-5pm; May 14, 10am-12pm; Auction: May 15, 10am
Property from the Estate of David Whitney Sold to Benefit the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Lots 210 and 213

 

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