Not a whimper of controversy surrounds this year’s Whitney Biennial. It’s an uptown show to the New Museum’s downtown triennial. If there’s activism, it’s in the curatorial choice to dedicate a humongous amount of space and time to performance for music and dance. And if there’s politics, it’s mostly about art, in the commissioned essay by artist Andrea Fraser, whose point is that everyone in the art world is compromised via money and insider politics, and yet that might make the art world the perfect place for art on the subject of money, politics and complicity. (The photographs and videos also delved into politics–about the real world, not necessarily the art world, but they didn’t dominate the show).
Everywhere in the exhibit, there’s music and theater in the air, with a pipe organ (with digital sounds), a player piano (jazz), and a multi-channel video projection by Werner Herzog with a lovely and elegaic classical music accompaniment. (See video clips of the musical pieces at YouTube). But good news art object lovers–
This year’s Biennial has actual objects to love! Paintings, lots of them! Sculptures on pedestals!
There is a mini painting show — a room of paintings by visionary artist Forrest Bess, curated by Robert Gober. The conversation between the Besses and the Andrew Masullo paintings is unmistakable; and two of the Bess paintings are from Masullo’s personal collection.
A surprising fiber art piece is an architectural adornment that reminds us of either Roman-era painted walls, or maybe it is Louis XIV. Either way, the piece, by Nick Mauss, looks painted and it’s great.
We saw the show with our NY correspondent Cate Fallon, and ran into friends and fellow bloggers, Hrag Vartanian, accompanied by Marina Galperina of Flavorpill, Mark Barry, and James Wagner and Barry Hoggard. We also saw Edie Newhall, there with a friend to check things out before running uptown to see a Cecil Beaton show at the Museum of the City of New York (she had previously been downtown to see the Cindy Sherman show). Always a pleasure to run into people. Bottom line, it’s an aesthete’s show, this curated show, and the curators have aesthetics on their minds. Here below is the rest of our picture post. More images at Roberta’s flickr and Libby’s flickr.