♠ Posted by ArtMuse at 4:16 PMOn Saturday I went to one of my favorite bi-yearly events, the Whitney Biennial. This year I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of pomp and banter the show possessed. After 2008's lackluster show of 'recession-style' art I was relieved to experience art that was earnest, frank, and despite its undercurrent of tension and poignancy, pretty darn hopeful. Don't mistake what I'm saying for happy, feel-good art. On the contrary, much of the hopefulness I felt after viewing the show wasn't because the works were sunny, but simply because they showed thought, determination, care, effort, and really tried to portray, quite successfully in most cases, the state of human emotion in the current climate of American culture today. As an added bonus, the work was very well organized, with the curators giving each work ample and appropriate space to be viewed and, hurray for feminism, for the first time ever, more work was displayed by women than men!
Some of my show favorites included (tear inducing) photography of the self immolation of Afghani women by Stephanie Sinclair and Nina Bermans photo's of a marine sergeant after his injuries sustained during a suicide bombing in Iraq.
As far as skill go, the absolutely mesmerizing tapestries of Pae White to the exquisite faux fabric paintings of Tauba Auerbach really spoke to the high level of professionalism and quality artists can produce. Even the whimsical 'hippie' looking flower paintings of Charles Ray beg to ask the question. What's so wrong with art for art's sake?
Even the 5th floor of the show, which housed the Whitney's permanent collection of past biennial favorites didn't disappoint. I never tire of seeing Robert Gober or Mike Kelley.
All in all the show was a pleasure to attend and for the 15 dollar price of admission its well worth it! Here are some links to the museum and to reviews of the show.
New York Magazine: 'Change We Can Believe In' by Jerry Saltz
NY Times 'At a Biennial on a Budget, Tweaking and Provoking' by Holland Cotter
Time Out NY 'The Whitney Finally Figures Out How to Put on a Biennial' by Harold Halle