About the Collection

The Whitney’s collection includes over 22,000 works created by more than 3,000 artists in the United States during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. At its core are Museum founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s personal holdings, totaling some 600 works when the Museum opened in 1931. These works served as the basis for the founding collection, which Mrs. Whitney continued to add to throughout her lifetime. The founding collection reflects Mrs. Whitney’s ardent support of living American artists of the time, particularly younger or emerging ones, including Peggy Bacon, George Bellows, Stuart Davis, Charles Demuth, Mabel Dwight, Edward Hopper, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Reginald Marsh, and John Sloan. This focus on the contemporary, along with a deep respect for artists’ creative process and vision, has guided the Museum’s collecting ever since. 

The collection begins with Ashcan School painting and follows the major movements of the twentieth century in America, with strengths in Modernism and Social Realism, Precisionism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Minimalism, Postminimalism, art centered on identity and politics that came to the fore in the 1980s and 1990s, and contemporary work. The Museum’s signature exhibition is its biennial (and annual, during certain periods) survey of contemporary art, which has always kept the focus on the present, in the spirit of its founder. The highlights of the collection are definitive examples of their type, but there is also much variety and originality in works by less well-known figures. The collection includes all mediums; over eighty percent is works on paper.

The Whitney has deep holdings of the work of certain key artists, spanning their careers and the mediums in which they worked, including Alexander Calder, Mabel Dwight, Jasper Johns, Glenn Ligon, Brice Marden, Reginald Marsh, Agnes Martin, Georgia O’Keeffe, Claes Oldenburg, Ed Ruscha, Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson, and David Wojnarowicz.

For questions or concerns about the Whitney's collection online, which is in beta form, please contact collectiononline@whitney.org; press queries should be directed to pressoffice@whitney.org.

  • Boy with intense smile and white shirt.

    Robert Henri (1865-1929), Laughing Child, 1907. Oil on canvas, 23 3/4 x 20 1/4 in. (60.3 x 51.4 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney 31.240

  • Snowy street with children building snowman.

    John Sloan (1871-1951), Backyards, Greenwich Village, 1914. Oil on canvas, 26 x 31 15/16 in. (66 x 81.1 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase 36.153 © Estate of John Sloan

  • Flaglike banners and symbols.

    Marsden Hartley (1877-1943), Painting, Number 5, 1914-15. Oil on linen; 39 1/4 x 32 in. (99.7 x 81.3 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of an anonymous donor 58.65 © Estate of Marsden Hartley

  • Flower like pastel colored painting.

    Georgia O'Keeffe (1887–1986), Music, Pink and Blue No. 2, 1918. Oil on canvas, 35 x 29 15/16 in. (88.9 x 76 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Emily Fisher Landau in honor of Tom Armstrong 91.90. © The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

  • Black and white painting of women in front.

    Mabel Dwight, In the Crowd, 1931. Lithograph: image, 9 1/2 × 11 3/4 in. (24.1 × 29.8 cm) irregular; sheet, 11 5/16 × 15 13/16 in. (28.7 × 40.2 cm). Edition of 32. Printed by George C. Miller; published by Weyhe Gallery. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Print Committee 98.8.1

  • Sailors and lovers in an abandoned park.

    Paul Cadmus (1904-1999), Sailors and Floosies, 1938. Oil and tempera on linen mounted on composition board, with wood frame; 33 11/16 × 48 1/2 in. (85 9/16 × 123 3/16 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Malcolm S. Forbes 64.42a-b © Jon F. Anderson, Estate of Paul Cadmus / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

  • Industrial geometric shape with sun reflecting.

    Charles Demuth (1883-1935), My Egypt, 1927. Oil on fiberboard, 35 3/4 × 30 in. (90.8 × 76.2 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney 31.172

  • Dark industrial smokestacks in white and grey.

    Elsie Driggs (1895-1992), Pittsburgh, 1927. Oil on canvas, 34 1/4 x 40 1/4 in. (87 x 102.2 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gift of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney 31.177

  • Colorful abstract woman smiling.

    Willem de Kooning, Woman and Bicycle, 1952–53. Oil on canvas, 76 1/2 × 49 in. (194.3 × 124.5 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase 55.35 © 2009 The Willem de Kooning Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

  • Fruits and abstract leaves in red and green.

    Lee Krasner, The Seasons, 1957. Oil on canvas, 92 3/4 × 203 3/4 in. (235.59 x 517.53 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from Frances and Sydney Lewis (by exchange), the Mrs. Percy Uris Purchase Fund and the Painting and Sculpture Committee 87.7 © 2011 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

  • Twentieth Century Fox logo emanating from corner.

    Edward Ruscha, Large Trademark with Eight Spotlights, 1962. Oil on canvas, 66 3/4 × 133 1/4 in. (169.6 × 338.5 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Mrs. Percy Uris Purchase Fund 85.41 © Ed Ruscha

  • Coca Cola bottles lined up with logo at bottom.

    Andy Warhol, Green Coca-Cola Bottles, 1962. Synthetic polymer, silkscreen ink, and graphite on canvas, 82 3/8 × 57 in. (209.2 × 144.8 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Friends of the Whitney Museum of American Art 68.25 © 2009 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Registered Trademark, The Coca Cola Company. All rights reserved.

  • Black cube in the center of a room.

    Tony Smith, Die, 1962. Steel, 72 3/8 × 72 3/8 × 72 3/8 in. (183.8 × 183.8 × 183.8 cm). Edition no. 3. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Louis and Bessie Adler Foundation Inc., James Block, The Sondra and Charles Gilman Jr. Foundation Inc., Penny and Mike Winton, and the Painting and Sculpture Committee 89.6. © 2009 Estate of Tony Smith / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

  • Two grey L sculptures in various states in a dark room.

    Robert Morris, Untitled (3 Ls), 1965 (refabricated 1970) (installation view, Art in Place: Fifteen Years of Acquisitions, Whitney Museum of American Art, 1989). Stainless steel in three parts, dimensions variable. Edition of 3. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Howard and Jean Lipman 76.29a-c © 2009 Robert Morris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

  • Two brown sculptures with him.

    Jackie Winsor, Bound Logs, 1972–73. Wood and hemp, 114 × 29 × 18 in. (289.6 × 73.7 × 45.7 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Howard and Jean Lipman Foundation Inc. 74.53. © 1973 Jackie Winsor

  • Old camera on two human legs.

    Laurie Simmons, Walking Camera II (Jimmy the Camera), 1987. Gelatin silver print, 82 13/16 × 47 1/2 in. (210.3 × 120.7 cm). Edition of 5. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Photography Committee 94.107 Video © 1987 Laurie Simmons

  • Two fireman kissing in front of brick buildings.

    Martin Wong, Big Heat, 1988. Synthetic polymer on canvas, 60 1/8 × 48 in. (152.7 × 121.9 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Painting and Sculpture Committee 99.89. Courtesy of The Estate of Martin Wong and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York, NY

  • Hanging installation made of rope and string.

    Eva Hesse, No title, 1970. Latex, rope, string, and wire, dimensions variable. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from Eli and Edythe L. Broad, the Mrs. Percy Uris Purchase Fund, and the Painting and Sculpture Committee 88.17a-b © The Estate of Eva Hesse. Hauser & Wirth; photograph by Sheldan C. Collins

  • Four statues with suits on without heads.

    Fred Wilson, Guarded View, 1991. Wood, paint, steel, and fabric, dimensions variable. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of the Peter Norton Family Foundation 97.84a-d © Fred Wilson

  • Six images of young men and women.

    Nan Goldin, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, 1979–96 (detail). Nine-carousel projection with approximately 700 slides, soundtrack, and titles, dimensions variable. Edition no. 1/10. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from The Charles Engelhard Foundation, the Mrs. Percy Uris Bequest, the Painting and Sculpture Committee, and the Photography Committee 92.127 © Nan Goldin

  • Rooster and chicken statues on top of colorful tablets.

    Rachel Harrison (b. 1966), Claude Levi-Strauss, 2007. Wood, chicken wire, polystyrene, cement, acrylic, taxidermically preserved silver-laced Wyandotte hen and Black Minorca rooster with attached label and mount, USPS Priority Mail cardboard box, and Sharp UX-B20 Fax machine cardboard box ; 67 × 82 × 25 in. (170.2 × 208.3 × 63.5 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from Warren and Allison Kanders 2008.15a-f

  • Abstract black and white drawn figures.

    Dana Schutz (b. 1976), Building the Boat While Sailing, 2012. Ink on paper, 72 1/8 × 96 in. (183.2 × 243.8 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Drawing Committee 2013.33 © Dana Schutz

  • Clouds and abstract storm like collage of colors.

    Mark Bradford (b. 1961), Bread and Circuses, 2007. Found paper, metal foil, acrylic, and plastic on canvas; 134 1/4 × 253 1/2 in. (341 × 643.9 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from Patrick and Mary Scanlan 2008.42 © Mark Bradford

  • Gray print with white line in the middle.

    Wade Guyton (b. 1972), Untitled, 2009. Epson UltraChrome inkjet on linen, 84 1/16 × 69 1/16 in. (213.5 × 175.4 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of the artist in honor of Scott Rothkopf 2013.26 © Wade Guyton