An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections From The Whitney’s Collection, 1940-2017



Carol Summers (1925-2016), Kill for Peace, 1967, from ARTISTS AND WRITERS PROTEST AGAINST THE WAR IN VIET NAM, 1967. Screenprint and photo-screenprint with punctures on board, 23 3/8 × 19 1/4 in. (59.4 × 48.9 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Print Committee 2006.50.14 © Alexander Ethan Summers

An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections From The Whitney’s Collection, 1940-2017 opened on August 18, 2017.  The exhibit explores how artists have confronted political and social issues of their time.  Artwork in the form of activism, criticism, instruction, or inspiration from ending the war in Vietnam, to combating the AIDS crisis and fighting for civil rights. The exhibit spans a time frame from the 1940s to present day, and focuses on particular moments and themes, organized into sections that range from Resistance and Refusal to Abuse of Power.  One theme in particular caught our eye, entitled The Usable Past. Within this theme, the exhibit explores “the idea that a self-conscious examination of historical figures, moments, and symbols can shape current and future political formation.”  and within this theme, one of our favorite artists, Julie Mehretu’s  ‘Epigraph, Damascus (2016),” a recent acquisition of The Whitney, will be on display for the first time.


Vietnam Referendum ’70, Let the People Vote on War!, 1970. Offset lithograph, 19 1/2 × 13 1/2 in. (49.5 × 34.3 cm). Purchase, with funds from The American Contemporary Art Foundation, Inc., Leonard A. Lauder, President 2017.10.341


Keith Haring (1958-1990), Ignorance = Fear / Silence = Death, 1989. Offset lithograph, 24 1/16 × 43 1/16 in. (61.1 × 109.4 cm). Gift of David W. Kiehl in honor of Patrick Moore 2014.265 Keith Haring artwork © Keith Haring Foundation


“The diverse works gathered in this gallery demonstrate how artists in the aftermath of World War II and during the fight for civil rights used ideas of resistance and refusal to reject inherited policies, politics, and social norms.  Among the artists included are Larry Clark, Too Miyatake, Gordon Parks, and Ad Reinhardt.”

An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940-2017 is organized by David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of the Collection; Jennie Goldstein, assistant curator; and Rujeko Hockey, assistant curator; with David Kiehl, curator emeritus; and Margaret Kross, curatorial assistant.  The Whitney Museum is located at 99 Gansevoort Street at the High Line in the Meatpacking District.


Guerrilla Girls (est. 1985), Guerrilla Girls Review the Whitney, 1987. Offset lithograph, 22 × 17 in. (55.9 × 43.2 cm). Purchase 2000.91 © Guerrilla Girls

More on Resistance and Refusal? Visit Hunter East Harlem Gallery,  Jason Lazarus: A Century of DISSENT! on view to September 1, 2017.

While you’re on Gansevoort Street, visit The Allouche Gallery, across the street from The Whitney at 82 Gansevoort Street, for the exhibit Paul Insect: Reflective Minds opening on September 7.