An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017 at Whitney Museum of American Art, from August 18, 2017
“Through the lens of the Whitney’s collection, An Incomplete History of Protest looks at how artists from the 1940s to the present have confronted the political and social issues of their day. Whether making art as a form of activism, criticism, instruction, or inspiration, the featured artists see their work as essential to challenging established thought and realizing a more equitable culture. Many have sought immediate change, such as ending the war in Vietnam or combating the AIDS crisis. Others have engaged with protest more indirectly, with the long term in mind, hoping to create new ways of imagining society and citizenship.
Since its founding in the early twentieth century, the Whitney has served as a forum for the most urgent art and ideas of the day, at times itself attracting protest. An Incomplete History of Protest, however, is by name and necessity a limited account. No exhibition can approximate the activism now happening in the streets and online, and no collection can account fully for the methodological, stylistic, and political complexity of artistic address. Instead, the exhibition offers a sequence of historical case studies focused on particular moments and concepts—from questions of representation to the fight for civil rights—that remain relevant today. At its root is the belief that artists play a profound role in transforming their time and shaping the future.” — Introductory Wall Text
Vietnam Referendum ’70, Let the People Vote on War!, 1970. Offset lithograph, 19 1/2 x 13 1/2 in. (49.5 x 34.3 cm). Purchase, with funds from The American Contemporary Art Foundation, Inc., Leonard A. Lauder, President 2017.10.341
Edgar Heap of Birds (b. 1954), Relocate Destroy, In Memory of Native Americans, In Memory of Jews, 1987, from American Policy, 1987. Pastel on paper, 22 x 29 13/16 in. (55.9 x 75.7 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Dorothee Peiper-Riegraf and Hinrich Peiper 2007.91
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 Hockley, assistant curator; with David Kiehl, curator emeritus; and Margaret Kross, curatorial assistant.