Friday, February 26, 2010

Whitney Biennial

I attended the opening of the Whitney Biennial the other night. Though less riotous than in previous years—that goes for both the work and the guests, it is still quite a party for the eyes, and reliable in providing a sizable amount of visual stimulation.

Above is a rendering of Soft Opening, an installation of lanterns by Jeffrey Inaba that was a commission by the Whitney for the Lower Gallery. Below, are detail.

Under normal circumstances, a stray stocking (I think it was a thigh-high, actually) in the middle of the floor of a museum would be considered odd, strange, unappetizing. Since this was the Biennial, however, there was a chance that this was a work of art, or a prop in a conceptual piece where our interactions with it were being filmed by a hidden camera. I ran into some people I knew in that room, so we got to see the thing migrate around the floor and the reactions of folks once they noticed it.

The gigantic image of whorling smoke, below, traverses the entire wall. It is not a photograph. It’s a tapestry by California artist Pae White, and it’s dazzling.

Installation by sculptor, Hannah Greely, of a dive bar, complete with ripped vinyl booths and gold-veined mirrors. I loved the fake pay phone (fauxn?) with the ancient yellow pages and the peeling fake wood.

Above, Aurel Schmidt’s Master of the Universe: FlexMaster 3000. Below are paintings by Maureen Gallace. They are intimate, yet anonymous landscapes of modest structures that are pared-down to the point of abstraction. I’ve always admired her work, so I was delighted to see it in the Biennial.

The Whitney Biennial ends May 30, 2010 and the website has examples of all the participating artists.
There is an accompanying exhibit of artworks from previous Whitney Biennials, back to the 1930s, that is on view until November 2010.

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