Sotheby’s has announced plans to get the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Breuer Building connected the country of Madison Avenue and 75th Street and relocate its York Avenue galleries and salesroom to the abstraction successful 2025. According to a Bloomberg report, the auction location volition acquisition the Brutalist gathering for astir $100 million.
Designed by Bauhaus-trained designer Marcel Breuer, the gathering has had its stock of occupants since it was erected. It was archetypal the third location to the Whitney from 1966 until 2014, earlier the depository moved into its existent residence successful the Meatpacking District successful May 2015. The Breuer gathering was past occupied by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which utilized the abstraction to show modern creation successful what immoderate criticized arsenic a burdensome endeavor that forced the instauration to divvy up its resources during a clip of financial stress. Then, successful 2021, it became the impermanent location of the Frick Collection portion the institution’s 70th Street office underwent renovations; the Frick is acceptable to reopen its Fifth Avenue mansion successful 2024.
The mid-century gathering initially received mixed reviews erstwhile it was completed successful 1966, considered dense and oppressive. Writing for the New York Herald Tribune, professional Emily Genauer reportedly christened the operation “the Madison Avenue Monster.” Reception has since softened, and the Breuer Building is often cited arsenic a notable Brutalist landmark.
Notably, the Breuer Building’s erstwhile tenants person each been museums: This is the archetypal clip a commercialized endeavor volition inhabit the space. The relocation volition spot the auction location successful person proximity to some mega-galleries similar Gagosian and Mnuchin and the nationalist institutions lining Museum Mile successful a determination not everyone is pleased with.
Visual theorist and activistic Nicholas Mirzoeff, a prof successful the Department of Media, Culture and Communication astatine New York University, called the acquisition a “sad mess.”
“The 19th-century depository displayed imperial loot arsenic portion of a web of achromatic supremacy connecting it to statues and borders. Today’s extractive capitalism has replaced that web with 1 linking creation fairs to auctions and galleries,” said Mirzoeff, whose astir caller publication White Sight: Visual Politics and Practices of Whiteness (2023) tackles the ways successful which ocular civilization perpetuates systems of oppression. “Sotheby’s acquiring — to usage the aged obfuscation for loot — the Whitney marks the caller highpoint of creation arsenic the show of oligarchical acquisition.”
The quality of Sotheby’s acquisition plans comes little than 3 months since Whitney Museum Director Adam Weinberg announced he volition beryllium departing the instauration successful the autumn aft 20 years astatine its helm.
Maya Pontone is simply a Staff Writer astatine Hyperallergic. Originally from bluish New Jersey, she studied journalism and governmental subject astatine Emerson College successful Boston, MA. She presently resides successful Brooklyn, NY. More by Maya Pontone