Why has criticism of the Whitney been unmoored?

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Why has criticism of the whitney been unmoored?
The Whitney Museum of American Art // Photo: Ed Lederman

I taught in Boston for the spring semester and commuted from New York City on the shuttle. The university discount applied only to the lower-rent US Airways version, which meant that the free in-flight reading material was somewhat limited, and as a result I was stuck with The Wall Street Journal and The New Criterion. Why the right is more inclined than the left to gratis distribution to this particular commuter demographic is a mystery, but I dutifully took my trips on wings of freebie reaction.

The New Criterion published two articles about architecture during the term; curiously, both were about museums designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano: the Fogg Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the new Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City’s meatpacking district. Previously, the journal had enthusiastically supported Piano, covering his “splendid” modifications to New York’s Morgan Library in 2006 and his “masterpiece” addition to Fort Worth’s Kimbell Art Museum in 2014. But something has changed. The review by Peter Pennoyer, a New York architect practicing in the “classical” manner, of Piano’s upgrade and expansion of the Fogg is chilly. Focused on the suture of modernity and “tradition,” Pennoyer—bemoaning “exquisitely detailed stone aedicule balconies” threatened by the proximity of a new wheelchair ramp—overvalues the tepid 1927 building, itself much of a muchness with other Georgian-oid construction from Harvard’s Roaring ’20s boom. […]


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