Until Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney opened her studio on Eighth Street in Manhattan in 1914which evolved into the Whitney Museum almost two decades laterthere were few art museums in the United States, let alone galleries, for contemporary artists to exhibit their work. When the mansions of the wealthy cried out for decorative art, they sought it from Europe, then the art capital of the world. It was in her tiny sculptor’s studio in Greenwich Village that Whitney began holding exhibitions of contemporary American artists. This remarkable effort by a scion of America’s wealthiest family helped to change the way art was cultivated in America. The Whitney Women and the Museum They Made is the story of the high ideals, extraordinary altruism, and great dedication that stood steadfast against inflated egos, big business, and greed. Flora Biddle’s sensitive and insightful memoir is a success story of three generations of forceful, indomitable women.
Flora Miller Biddle was president of the Whitney Museum of American Art from 1977 to 1995. She has four children. Her daughter, Fiona, following her mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, has been elected to serve on the Whitney board of trustees.