March 14, 2008

"A No Paintings Biennial would've at least made everyone hysterical"

Jerry Saltz writes that the Whitney Biennial curators obviously have eyes for installation, sculpture, and video only. "There are 81 artists in this show, only seven of them painters by my count. Four of them—Olivier Mosset, Robert Bechtle, Mary Heilmann, and Karen Kilimnik—have been lauded for years. The youngest painter, Joe Bradley, 32, contributes three works that are boring, puckered versions of Ellsworth Kelly. These curators seem to think that painting is incapable of addressing the issues of our time or that it’s passé. I suspect Momin and Huldisch didn’t want to include painting at all. Although that kind of academic orthodoxy is moth-eaten—a medium has potential until the ideas it addresses are exhausted—it’s a shame they didn’t go all the way with that notion. A No Paintings Biennial would’ve at least made everyone hysterical." Read more.

Related posts:
"Bitter slog" for painting in the Whitney Biennial

2 Biennial artists in the MassArt family

3 comments:

Hey Sharon, thanks for this link. I haven't been to the biennial yet but will be making my way shortly.

I was thinking about what Saltz has to say and I think that the style de jur is already really annoying. it has been for a few years now. It's more about proving you've read the right texts. It seems many young artists have resorted to attempting to illustrate theory or create political propaganda. Unfortunately in most cases it just doesn't hold up either as theory or as art, even if one is sympathetic.

I went to the March 4th preview and almost got in a political fight with Jerry! It was to crowded to really fully get things and I still believe there are some things in there worth getting but here are some thoughts.

The curators seemed to be trying to edit out visual esthetics as the major factor in the show.

The other big impression, I got was just that they picked a large number of people who work very large or work with space which made one realise how small the Whitney is. The startling aspect was using the Armory.

I think we have to make a decision about these survey type shows. Either we just give up on all single attempts to do broad surveys of the creative landscape (which seems to be what has happened)or we need to take the job much more seriously.What this means is that a single (modest size) museum or small team of curators is just not up to the job.

The reasonable solution which is hinted at by the use of the armory is that the entire city should be used. Suppose MOMA, PS1, The Whitney, New Museum etc.. got together and offered thier spaces along with all kinds of other spaces in the city.

The fact that this does not happen and is rarely even talked about shows that the institutional art world is about as backward and lame as they come.

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