06/07/2013 01:39 pm ET

Elevators As Art, For The New Whitney


For now passers-by can see only the shell of the Whitney Museum of American Art’s new home as it takes shape at the intersection of Gansevoort and Washington Streets in the meatpacking district of Manhattan. But once the building is completed in 2015, the only permanent artwork commissioned for the site — its four main elevators — will be visible from both inside the museum and out.

Adam D. Weinberg, the Whitney’s director, enlisted the artist Richard Artschwager to design the elevators about two years ago. Mr. Artschwager, who died in February, had been involved with the Whitney for more than a half-century, Mr. Weinberg noted in an interview, and the museum owns prime examples of work from every phase of that artist’s career, from his furniturelike sculptures covered with wood-grain Formica to paintings that look as though he applied smudged soot. The Whitney has held two Artschwager retrospectives, one in 1988 and another that ended just a few days before his death.

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