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Legacy: The Emily Fisher Landau Collection

Feb 10–May 1, 2011

Rodney Graham (b. 1949), Oak, Middle Aston, 1990, from the portfolio Oxfordshire Oaks, Fall 1990, 1990. Chromogenic print, 90 5/16 × 71 3/8 in. (229.4 × 181.3 cm). Promised gift of Emily Fisher Landau  P.2010.94 © Rodney Graham; photograph byTim Nighswander/
Edward Ruscha (b. 1937), Lion in Oil, 2002. Synthetic polymer on canvas with tape, 64 3/16 × 72 1/8 × 1 9/16 in. (163 × 183.2 × 4 cm) overall. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; promised gift of the Fisher Landau Center for Art  P.2010.330 © Ed Ruscha; photography courtesy of the artist

Legacy: The Emily Fisher Landau Collection presents a selection of works from the historic gift of art pledged to the Whitney in May 2010 by longtime Museum trustee Emily Fisher Landau. Considered one of the preeminent collectors of postwar art in the United States, Emily Fisher Landau’s personal approach to collecting has long paralleled that of the Whitney, an institution similarly devoted to the art of its time. The exhibition traces many of the ideas that have preoccupied artists in the United States, particularly since the 1960s. Questions about the relevance of painting in the aftermath of Minimalism, debates about representation, “culture wars,” and a revived interest in personal narratives are explored in works by artists such as Carl Andre, John Baldessari, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Peter Hujar, Neil Jenney, Barbara Kruger, Robert Mapplethorpe, Agnes Martin, Richard Prince, Martin Puryear, Susan Rothenberg, Mark Tansey, and David Wojnarowicz. Also highlighted in Legacy are some of the artists that Emily Fisher Landau collected in depth—Richard Artschwager, Jasper Johns, and Ed Ruscha—a reflection of her longstanding relationships with artists and her commitment to collecting in depth. 

Legacy: The Emily Fisher Landau Collection is organized by Donna De Salvo, the Whitney’s Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Programs, and David Kiehl, Nancy and Fred Poses Curator.

Works from the Exhibition

John Baldessari (b.1931), What This Painting Aims to Do, 1967.  Synthetic polymer and oil on canvas, 67 7/8 × 56 9/16 × 1 in. (172.4 × 143.7 × 2.5 cm). Promised gift of Emily Fisher Landau  P.2010.24. Photograph by Tim Nighswander/
Peter Hujar (1934–1987), Susan Sontag, 1975. Gelatin silver print, 14 15/16 × 14 15/16 in. (37.9 × 37.9 cm). Promised gift of the Fisher Landau Center for Art  P.2010.313. Photograph by Tim Nighswander/
Ed Ruscha (b.1937), Give Him Anything and He’ll Sign It, 1965.  Oil on canvas, 57 1/2 × 55 1/4 in. (146.1 × 140.3 cm). Promised gift of Emily Fisher Landau  P.2010.257 © Ed Ruscha; photograph courtesy of the artist
Nayland Blake (b. 1960), Double Feature Standards, 1991. Silk flowers, aluminum, two VHS tapes in plastic cases, steel cable, and rubber, 83 × 32 × 14 in. (210.8 × 81.3 × 35.6 cm) overall. Promised gift of Emily Fisher Landau P.2010.36a–e. © Nayland Blake; photograph by Tim Nighswander/
Mark Tansey (b. 1949), Valley of Doubt, 1990. Oil on canvas, 87 3/4 × 144 3/8 in. (222.9 × 366.7 × 4.1 cm). Promised gift of Emily Fisher Landau P.2010.275. Photograph by Tim Nighswander/
Nan Goldin (b. 1953), Self-Portrait with Milagro, The Lodge, Belmont, MA 1988, 1988. Silver dye bleach print, 27 3/8 × 40in. (69.5 × 101.6 cm). Edition no. 6/25. Promised gift of Emily Fisher Landau P.2010.87. © Nan Goldin; courtesy of Matthew Marks Gallery, New York; photograph by Tim Nighswander/

Much more than simply a record of the pledge, Legacy: The Emily Fisher Landau Collection showcases the best of the art made in the United States during the past five decades. Informative entries, written by the museum's curators and other scholars, cover all works in the gift and are accompanied by 125 stunning color plates. Also included are an essay on the nature of collecting by Donna De Salvo and a full-color checklist of the entire gift.

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