Whitney Museum Presents Groundbreaking Eco Art Project with a Live Citrus Grove ~ The Harrisons, Survival Piece #5: Portable Orchard

 

 

 

The Harrisons, Survival Piece #5: Portable Orchard, 1972–73 (installation view, Art Gallery at California State University, Fullerton). Citrus trees, soil, wood, and lights, dimensions variable. Courtesy California State University Fullerton Archives & Special Collections

Survival Piece #5: Portable Orchard, opening at the Whitney Museum of American Art on June 29, 2024, explores alternative, sustainable food systems in an imagined future where natural farming practices are obsolete. Artists Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison, often referred to as “the Harrisons,” conceived and designed the project in 1972, a period when environmentalist movements in the United States were taking shape. Inspired by the growing social awareness of vulnerable ecosystems, the Harrisons developed “Survival Pieces,” proposals for installation projects that served as works of art and calls to action. The instruction drawing for Portable Orchard, which is in the Whitney’s permanent collection, details the build plans for the self-sustaining indoor garden and offers tips on tree care as well as creative recipes for celebrating the grove’s yield. This installation marks the first standalone museum presentation of the fully realized grove of eighteen citrus trees in over fifty years.

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Then and Now: The Whitney Museum Compares NYC Artworks from its First Biennial to Today

 

 

 

Image credit: Left: George C. Ault, Hudson Street, 1932. Oil on linen, 24 3/16 × 20in. (61.4 × 50.8 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase 33.40. © Estate of George C. Ault. Right: Photo by Max Touhey Photography

Much has changed in New York City in the nearly 100 years since the Whitney Museum of American Art launched its landmark exhibition, while some things have remained the same.

The inaugural Whitney Biennial—a survey of contemporary American art—opened on November 22, 1932, and featured several works that highlighted life in New York City, including Edward Hopper’s now iconic painting Room in New York and works by artists Joseph Stella, Florine Stettheimer, and George C. Ault, among others.

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