Cracking the Code to the Whitney’s First Show

Photo: Konstantin Sergeyev

On a recent afternoon, Scott Rothkopf, the Whitney curator and associate director of programs, took some time off from the marathon of galas, previews, press conferences, luncheons, Michelle Obama visits, and black-tie donor-coddling bonanzas that accompanied the weeks-long opening of the Whitney Museum of American Art’s new downtown building — perhaps you’ve heard something about this? — to dwell upon the actual purpose of the edifice: the art itself. (Well, almost took some time off — before giving a tour, Rothkopf ran into Rashid Johnson on the sun-washed eighth floor, and the artist informed him that the Whitney needed to update its mailing list, as his lifetime-membership card arrived at his mother’s

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