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BROUGHT TO LIGHT: THE NEW WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART

View of “America Is Hard to See,” 2015, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. On wall: Jonathan Borofsky, Running People at 2,616,216, 1978–79. Photo: Nic Lehoux.

FOR THE MOST PART, American artists have been denizens of the dark. Sure, there have been jaunts en plein air and epic engagements with The Land, but for much of the past century the American avant-garde has lurked in places where vitamin D is scarce: the smoky bar and the speakeasy, the boxing hall and the factory floor, midnight piers, Lower East Side squats, and other enjoyably unwholesome spots. Many paradigmatically modern sites for entertainment have scorned natural light as well, for ambience and discretion (the nightclub) or out of a vampiric incapacity to survive in the sun (the cinema). The diffuse incandescence of art galleries may sometimes be bright, but it radiates artificiality, the white cube perhaps owing less to sunshine than to Times Square at midnight. In most museums, windows have been a rarity, as they take up valuable wall space and can expose artworks to

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