The Frick Collection will vacate its Brutalist temporary home on New York’s Madison Avenue and return to Henry Clay Frick’s historic Fifth Avenue mansion in 2024. On Friday (21 April) the institution revealed details of its return to its longtime home, which is undergoing a $160m renovation and expansion designed by Annabelle Selldorf that went through four different formulations before receiving approval from New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. The mansion will reopen to the public in late 2024.
On 3 March 2024 the Frick will cease operations at the Marcel Breuer-designed building at the corner of East 75th Street and Madison Avenue that it has used as its base since early 2021. The fate of the Breuer building—which was for decades the home of the Whitney Museum of American Art and, following that museum’s relocation to the Meatpacking District, a temporary outpost of the Metropolitan Museum of Art dubbed the Met Breuer—is unknown.
“Our residency at Frick Madison has been rewarding and productive, and we look forward to the remaining months of our time at 945 Madison Avenue, as we continue to gain new insights into our collection by seeing it reframed in this unprecedented way,” Frick director Ian Wardropper said in a statement. “We have been especially gratified to welcome new audiences to Frick Madison, as well as inspiring longstanding supporters through thought-provoking installations, new publications, and innovative programming.”
The Frick’s tenure at the Breuer building made for a powerful contrast between the institution’s world-class collection of Old Masters and the austere modernism of the architecture. It also occasioned an embrace of contemporary art by Frick curators, who have increasingly put the institution’s centuries-old paintings and sculptures into dialogue with contemporary art. Shows at Frick Madison included an exhibition that paired Claude Monet and Olafur Eliasson, and another, Living Histories: Queer Views and Old Masters, which juxtaposed Old Master paintings with recent works by New York-based artists Salman Toor, Jenna Gribbon, Toyin Ojih Odutola and Doron Langberg.
The final rounds of programming at the Frick Madison will include a site-specific pastel mural by Nicolas Party and a hotly anticipated exhibition of portraits by Barkley L. Hendricks (1945-2017). That show, which is being curated by the Frick’s Aimee Ng and Gagosian director Antwaun Sargent, will run from 21 September 2023 until 7 January 2024.
Also on the calendar is an exhibition showcasing one of the jewels in the Frick’s collection, Giovanni Bellini’s St Francis in the Desert (1475-80), alongside Giorgione’s early 16th century painting, Three Philosophers. “The installation will pair the beloved paintings together again for the first time in more than four hundred years,” Frick deputy director and chief curator Xavier F. Salomon said in a statement. “I can’t think of a better coda for what has been a remarkable temporary home for our collection and staff during the critical renovation of our buildings.”
The Frick’s plan to renovate its namesake industrialist’s opulent home was revised before winning approval. An earlier plan met intense criticism because it would have replaced the property’s 70th Street garden with a six-storey extension.