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PRINT November 1999

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Marla Prather

THE STANDARD art-world book on the Whitney Museum goes like this: a distant third in the New York contemporary museum sweepstakes (after august MoMA and flashy Guggenheim Inc.), stuck in a cramped, unrenovatable late-modernist bunker, limited in focus to an American art of fading importance in an increasingly global scene, and hobbled by uncertain, feckless administrators.

That last alleged characteristic bears some unpacking. After video-savvy, suavely PC director David Ross departed in 1998 for the sunnier, cyberrich climes of the Bay Area, the Whitney—so the story goes—decided to retrench. The next director would forgo exhibition excursions into social reform, would merely tolerate the bumptious (but box-office friendly) biennial, and would oversee the production of shows based on the Whitney’s collections that would be much more hospitable to ladies who lunch. Newish director Maxwell

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