Ten Things to Know
about Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
Whitney was the great-granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the famed American railroad and shipping magnate.
She married into the equally prestigious Whitney family, who were major figures in the Thoroughbred horse racing and breeding industry.
Whitney studied at the Arts Student League in New York alongside other notable women artists including Anna Vaughn Hyatt and Malvina Hoffman.
Early in her career, she worked under an assumed name fearing that she would not be taken seriously due to both her gender and her social status.
Neither her family nor her husband were supportive of her desire to become an artist.
Whitney's first public commission, Aspiration, was displayed outside the New York State Building at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, in 1901.
She utilized her great wealth and social standing to support the advancement of women in the arts.
In 1931, she founded the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
She was the recipient of many awards and honors, including the French Legion of Honor in 1926.
Her Greenwich Village studio was named a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, giving it landmark status.
Art is an ascending or descending scale, the spirit of its joy reaches us in unexpected ways. It travels on slender threads but it is within the grasp of all who care enough to want to see and understand.
Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
40 Years of Lost City Arts
Jim Elkind, founder Lost City Arts—of one of the most influential design galleries in New York City—has design in his DNA. Elkind grew up in a modernist house full of mid-century modern furniture and spent many weekends traveling into New York with his mother, visiting museums and exploring the city. He fondly recalls her pointing up at the skyscrapers and their architectural details, encouraging and instilling in him a curiosity about his surroundings and an attention to detail that would go on to shape his future career.
The idea to open a gallery originally came to Elkind during a visit to the annual juried art show at University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he attended college. The vetted show featured several hundred artists, many of whom, he realized, were extremely talented but would never make it into the mainstream art world. Taking a page from his entrepreneur father’s book, Elkind imagined opening a gallery in New York called the Gallery of the Unknown Artist where he would feature work by up-and-coming artists from universities around the country.