The Frick Collection announced today that it will open the doors to Frick Madison, its temporary new home, on Thursday, March 18, 2021. Located at the Breuer-designed building at 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street, former site of the Met Breuer and the Whitney Museum of American Art, Frick Madison will welcome visitors Thursday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Timed entry tickets will need to be purchased in advance, with online sales beginning February 19. The Frick Collection will operate Frick Madison for approximately two years while its historic buildings on East 70th Street undergo renovation. This temporary relocation enables the Frick to provide public access to its celebrated collections during a time when the museum and library would otherwise be closed.
Comments Ian Wardropper, Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Director, “While the Frick has successfully maintained contact with audiences locally, nationally, and around the globe through our thought-provoking digital programs since having to close last March, we have greatly missed the direct, in-person interactions with the public. We are looking forward to sharing our collections again in person, reframed in a setting that has inspired fresh perspectives.”
In a departure from the institution’s customary domestic presentation style, Frick Madison offers the public the opportunity to experience highlights from the collection organized chronologically and by region. Presented over three floors, the Frick Madison installation features treasured paintings and sculptures by Bellini, Clodion, Gainsborough, Goya, Holbein, Houdon, Ingres, Rembrandt, Titian, Turner, Velázquez, Verrocchio, Vermeer, Whistler, and many others, alongside impressive holdings in the decorative arts. Rarely displayed works include important seventeenth-century Mughal carpets and long-stored canvases from the famed series The Progress of Love by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, to be shown together in its entirety for the first time in the Frick’s history. The installation also debuts new acquisitions in several media. A reading room is available by appointment for researchers and others who use the rich art historical resources of the Frick Art Reference Library.
The installation is organized by the Frick’s curatorial team, led by Xavier F. Salomon, Deputy Director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator, with Curator Aimee Ng, incoming Assistant Curator Giulio Dalvit, and former Curator of Decorative Arts Charlotte Vignon, now director of the Musée National de Céramique in Sèvres, France. The plan has been created in consultation with the Frick’s longtime exhibition designer Stephen Saitas and Selldorf Architects, the firm responsible for the institution’s building project.
On the second floor, Northern European paintings represent modern-day Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. These works share the general characteristics of precision and highly naturalistic depictions of their subjects, ranging from Memling’s and Holbein’s contemporary sitters to Van Eyck’s and David’sreligious figures to Bruegel’s sinewy soldiers. Holbein’s iconic portraits of Sir Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell hang together, alone, without other works; here the famously oppositional figures seem to confront each more directly than was possible at the mansion. Three stunning paintings by Rembrandt, his Self-Portrait, that ofNicolaes Ruts, and the enigmatic Polish Rider, are shown side by side. Nearby are the Frick’s three Vermeers, genre scenes of men and women presented within domestic interiors. These panels are seldom shown in such unmediated proximity, and here surround visitors on three walls. For the first time ever, the Frick’s substantial group of eight full- and half-length portraits by Van Dyck, spanning all periods and geographic locations of his oeuvre, are displayed together in one room. Portraits by Frans Hals are presented nearby, in addition to landscapes by Hobbema and Ruysdael, which evoke the lyrical beauty of the countryside of the Low Countries.
On the third floor, the Italian and Spanish schools are presented. Diminutive gold ground panels by early Italian religious artists including Cimabue, Duccio, and Piero della Francisca come together in an intimate gallery. Such panels are found in very few collections across the United States and particularly represent the taste of Helen Clay Frick, the daughter of the museum’s founder, founder of the Frick Art Reference Library, and a longtime Trustee of the institution. In a central cross-shaped space, visitors will encounter contrastingly grand Renaissance work favored by Henry Clay Frick, including beloved works by Titian, Bronzino, and Veronese. (This monumental pair of canvases by Veronese has left the walls of the Frick’s West Gallery only once during the past century).
Many consider Bellini’s St. Francis in the Desert to be the greatest Renaissance painting in America; it is arguably the most beloved at the Frick. Its position in the mansion, dominating a wall in the central Living Hall, suggests the esteem held for it by Henry Clay Frick. Amidst the luxurious domestic setting of the mansion, generations of visitors have sought out this majestic work to contemplate the complexities of meanings hidden within the objects depicted. Visitors to Frick Madison will find this masterpiece in a third-floor room of the Breuer building, shown in splendid isolation. Here the panel can be experienced in a chapel-like space. adjacent to one of Breuer’s trapezoidal windows, which allows the natural light of Manhattan to merge with the divine light depicted in the painting.
The display of Italian work continues on this floor with Venetian eighteenth-century paintings by Guardi and Tiepolo. Two recent acquisitions, gifted by the estate of Alexis Gregory, are also on view: a stunning pair of portraits by Rosalba Carriera, one of the most important eighteenth-century pastel artists, who was also active in Venice. Finally, an unprecedented arrangement of nine Spanish paintings by Velázquez, Murillo, El Greco, and Goya—works typically scattered throughout the mansion—asserts Henry Clay Frick’s great interest in Spanish masters.
A third-floor gallery is dedicated entirely to works in bronze. Straying from the sparseness of the Frick Madison display, this space evokes a fifteenth- or sixteenth-century studiolo and features a selection of the finest bronzes acquired by Henry Clay Frick from J. P. Morgan’s estate in 1916. At 1 East 70th Street, bronze statuettes have often been displayed to ornament the furniture; at Frick Madison, they are arranged in dialogue with each other, enabling visitors to study them closely. Also on prominent view for the first time is Francesco da Sangallo’s St. JohnBaptizing, the artist’s only signed bronze and the only such statuette at the Frick that was made to decorate a church. Designed to crown a marble font in Santa Maria delle Carceri in Prato (near Florence), the statuette is shown at Frick Madison in a manner not attempted in the residential backdrop of the mansion: atop a replica of the font on which it stood until the 1890s. The creation of this base by Factum Arte, made possible by a generous gift of Fabrizio Moretti, enables visitors at Frick Madison to imagine the object’s original context.
The third floor also includes a series of galleries devoted to decorative artworks, offered in dramatic displays outside of the domestic setting in which they are usually seen. Concentrated groupings of clocks and Limoges enamels offer fresh focus to two lesser-known but significant strengths of the Frick’s holdings. Another space features prized seventeenth-century Indian carpets, not shown on the floor as “furnishings,” but hung on the wall in the manner of paintings nearby (see below). Particularly arresting is a gallery displaying floor-to-ceiling porcelain organized by color, rather than by function, origin, or the date of manufacture. This blended presentation underscores how strongly influenced European firms such as Meissen and Du Paquier were by earlier and contemporary Asian wares. The confluence of East and West is further amplified by Baroque furniture. Examples by Boulle and the van Riesenburghs feature ebony, tortoiseshell, and repurposed Japanese lacquerware, materials available through emerging global trade networks.
On the fourth floor of the Breuer building, visitors will find the work of British and French artists, represented through Henry Clay Frick’s love of portraiture, landscape painting, and sculpture. Paintings from the British School are by far the best represented in the Frick’s holdings, a fact that was not as apparent until now, since previously these works were dispersed throughout various rooms of the historic mansion. Hung together at Frick Madison for the first time, seven canvases by Gainsborough (the largest gathering by the artist in any New York Museum) are shown alongside portraits by Hogarth, Lawrence, Reynolds, and Romney, together representing nearly one hundred years of remarkable British portraiture. Visitors will next encounter landscapes by two great titans of the genre—Constable and Turner—which together represent a critical moment in early nineteenth-century British painting. Visitors can compare Constable’s naturalistic, nostalgic depiction of the English countryside with Turner’s bustling French harbors. In some sense, this installation offers a distillation of the period, when these contemporaries attempted to define modern painting, offering profoundly opposing approaches. Another gallery on this level features four full-length portraits by American-born James McNeil Whistler, the London-based artist who is the best represented in the Frick’s holdings. These beloved works have often been relegated to storage to make room for major special exhibitions, an issue the renovation and enhancement project will correct with the addition of a new gallery dedicated exclusively to special exhibitions.
The fourth floor also offers a focused look at the institution’s French works, represented by eighteenth-century artists Boucher, Chardin, Greuze, and Fragonard. Of particular note are the fourteen paintings of Fragonard’s Progress of Love series, now displayed together for the first time in the institution’s history. This installation also includes three decorative panels of hollyhocks, which have been in storage much of the time since Mr. Frick purchased the cycle for his home in 1915. At Frick Madison the series is displayed to reflect its history, as it was created during two distinct campaigns, twenty years apart. The initial four canvases (1771–72) are shown for the first time in the original sequence envisioned by the artist when they were commissioned by Louis XV’s mistress Madame du Barry. They are shown in a gallery approximately the same size as their intended home outside Paris, overlooking not the Seine River but Madison Avenue, illuminated by another one of Breuer’s signature windows. In an adjacent room are the ten canvases painted by Fragonard twenty years after the original four, together in an arrangement that was never possible in the mansion, owing to space constraints. Punctuating this unprecedented installation is a dramatic wall that gathers together the full set of Fragonard’s cupid-themed overdoors.
Major support for the installation is provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies, Denise Littlefield Sobel, an anonymous gift in memory of Melvin R. Seiden, The Christian Humann Foundation, and by David and Julie Tobey. Additional funding is generously provided by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, Acquavella Family Foundation, The Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Charitable Foundation, Larry Gagosian, Drue and H.J. Heinz II Charitable Trust, the Malcolm Hewitt Wiener Foundation, The Honorable and Mrs. Earle Mack, The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Joanne Payson in memory of John Whitney Payson, Fabrizio Moretti, the David L. Klein, Jr. Foundation, Elizabeth F. Stribling and Guy Robinson, Eiko and Michael Assael, Christie’s, Elise Frick, Hubert and Mireille Goldschmidt, Jane Richards in honor of Elizabeth M. Eveillard, and Sotheby’s.
Frick Madison will be open four days a week, Thursday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The health and safety of our visitors are of the utmost importance, and all measures in place are in keeping with federal guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and New York State and City. The occupancy of the museum’s galleries will be capped at 25%. Ticket link for all museum and library reservations: frick.org/tickets.
- Tickets purchased online in advance are required for general admission. Online ticket sales begin February 19.
- Members may reserve free tickets online and will enjoy a separate expedited process for entry.
- Free admission to the reading room is also timed and by appointment. Online reservations begin February 19.
- Face coverings are required and must be worn by all visitors and staff. Social distancing will be strictly enforced. The coat check is closed until further notice. Visitors will not be allowed to carry oversized items into the galleries.
A printed guide is available free of charge. Visitors may also enhance their experience with a new curator-led audio guide available on the Bloomberg Connects App, using their own phones rather than borrowed devices. This free downloadable guide, launched in June 2020, is available now and updated monthly with new content.
A light menu of refreshments and snacks, offered by Joe Coffee, will be available during museum hours, with seating outdoors.
Read more about breaking ground and the extensive renovation at The Frick Collection, 1 East 70th Street, NYC.
While you’re there, take a short walk to Lexington Avenue and the oldest family-owned luncheonette in NYC ~ The Lexington Candy Shop.