Empire State Building to light up for The Whitney, May 1

The Empire State Building and the new Whitney (white building in foreground to the right of the ESB). Photograph by Tim Schenck

NEW YORK – The Whitney Museum of American Art will partner with Empire State Realty Trust on a one-of-a-kind, one-night-only Empire State Building lightshow on Friday, May 1, 2015, marking two historic occasions: the opening day of the Whitney’s new Renzo Piano–designed building in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District and the eighty-fourth anniversary of the Empire State Building.

Focusing on twelve iconic works from the Whitney’s collection, lighting designer Marc Brickman will interpret pieces by artists Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol, Peter Halley, and Barbara Kruger, among others, utilizing the Empire State Building’s LED tower lights to create a dynamic show. Beginning at 8 pm on Friday, May 1, each of the twelve artworks will be showcased for thirty minutes, with the light show ending at 2 am on Saturday, May 2.

Most of the works that inspired the light show will be on view at the Whitney as part of the new building’s inaugural exhibition, America Is Hard to See (May 1–September 27, 2015).

“We’re thrilled to see these incredible works from the Whitney’s collection interpreted on one of the most iconic buildings in the world—one that has been the subject of many an artist’s work,” said Donna De Salvo, the Whitney’s Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Programs. “We can’t imagine a more spectacular way in which to signal the opening of our new building and celebrate the art and artists of the United States.”

“The Empire State Building has brought music, sports, and elections to life with our state-of-the-art lighting system, and now we’re delighted to showcase the impressive artwork of the Whitney Museum of American Art,” said Anthony E. Malkin, Chairman and CEO of ESRT. “Our partnership with the Whitney will give the people of New York a celebration of two of the city’s iconic institutions.”

To kick off the celebration, a lighting ceremony will take place at the Empire State Building for invited media and guests on May 1. John B. Kessler, President and Chief Operating Officer of Empire State Realty Trust; Adam D. Weinberg, the Whitney’s Alice Pratt Brown Director; Donna De Salvo, the Whitney’s Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Programs; and some of the artists whose work will be interpreted in the light show will jointly flip the “switch” and light the building in celebratory colors.

A special viewing for Museum visitors will be held on Friday, May 1, from 8 pm until 10 pm, at the Whitney’s new building at 99 Gansevoort Street, which has stunning views of the Empire State Building from its four, east-facing terraces.

The artworks can be viewed online at www.whitney.org/ESBand on May 1, an online slideshow will be synchronized to the lightshow, so that viewers throughout the city can look at the Empire State Building and the art works in real time.

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