Windows Whitney Breuer Materias Investigacion::Arquitectura
Servicio de Publicaciones Universidad de Navarra
Blankenbaker, Sarah (2016), ""Whence the Whitney's Windows?"", En: Alcolea, R.A., Tárrago-Mingo, J., (eds.) en Congreso internacional: Inter photo arch ""Interacciones"", (pp. 36-43)
It winks with oddly shaped eyes protruding from the profile of an equally enigmatic face.
Or perhaps it’s a fortress, hiding secret hunters behind openings like gun ports dotting the
Maginot Line. Whatever it seems to resemble, Marcel Breuer’s 1966 Whitney Museum is odd.
Chief among its eccentricities are its windows, which are noted in nearly every account of the
building, however divergent the descriptions. Explained by Breuer as a solution to a problem
put before him by the Whitney’s board, the windows were, according to him, simply means
to “provide a connection to the exterior”. The artificial lighting specified in the design brief
resulted in spaces optimized for viewing art, but also closed-off, cold, and disorienting. Thus,
windows were added to relieve the monotony of the interior. However, were a simple solution
truly the motivation for the openings, surely a more common window type would have
sufficed. Whence, then, the Whitney’s windows? Although many explanations for the Whitney
have been offered by various authors, most accounts rely either upon the figural nature of
its exterior and consequent resemblance to other things or upon its supposed functionalism.
Taking resemblance as its starting point, this paper develops an alternative account by
considering the windows photographically.