Arcane Fire

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To Do: 2010 Whitney Biennial

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Let me start off by saying a biennial is something that occurs for two years or (as is the case with the Whitney) occurs every two years.  Now that that’s out of the way, Jerry Saltz’s description of the small, managable Whitney Biennial exhibit makes me want to see it now.

The cover of the 2010 Whitney Biennial catalogue displays a picture of Barack Obama as a Dapper Dan cowboy. Inside, guest curator Francesco Bonami and co-curator Gary Carrion-Murayari call the president “the coolest artist of all” and say their show is about “innovative forms,” “new relationships,” and “personal modernism.” After two biennials devoted to dealing with “failure” and “darkness,” this catalogue speaks of “renewal” and “optimism.” Yes, it’s the Obama Biennial: alternately moving and frustrating, challenging and disappointing—and a big improvement on what came before.

It is also historic: For the first time, there are more women included than men. How thrilling and important this is shouldn’t be overlooked or treated cynically, because this biennial isn’t about women’s art, feminism, or affirmative action. Nor is it about painting, although there’s more nonphotographic, handmade two-dimensional work here than I recall seeing for decades. Instead, it provides glimpses of American strangeness, of pluralistic grassroots experimentalism. It is rich in surprises and new names, doesn’t follow too many trends, and deals with the self and aesthetics in fresh ways.

It’s an exhibit about Barack Obama (Change We Can Believe In) that includes more women artists than men.  Here’s a little history from the KiptonART Blog:

Today, art world tongues are wagging at the Whitney Museum of American Art’s announcement of the artists participating in the upcoming Whitney Biennial, 2010 which takes over the Museum from February 25 through May 30, 2010. This is the 75th in the ongoing series of Biennials and Annuals presented by the Whitney since 1932, two years after the Museum was founded.  On view will be a mix of well-known and new artists ranging in age from a 23-year-old photographer, Tam Tran, to the 75-year-old conceptual artist Lorraine O’Grady.  For 2010, the Biennial includes 55 artists, down from 81 in 2008 and 100 in 2006.

The fifty-five artists were selected by curator Francesco Bonami and associate curator Gary Carrion-Murayari. Eleven of the artists have shown in past Whitney Biennials: James Casebere and George Condo in the 1980s, Suzan Frecon in 2000, Hannah Greely in 2006, Robert Grosvenor in the 1960s and 70s, Martin Kersels in 1997, Jim Lutes in 1987, Ari Marcopoulos in 2002, Josephine Meckseper in 2006, Charles Ray several times in the 1980s and 90s; Ray, who also had a solo retrospective at the Whitney in 1998, makes a departure from his previous work with his installation in 2010. 

KiptonART – Whitney Biennial 2010, Artists Announced

See also: The Guardian – Whitney Biennial 2010: still flying the flag? 

February 25-May 30, 2010.  Friday nights from 6-9pm admission is pay-what-you-wish.


Written by doorr

March 2, 2010 at 5:02 pm

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