5.05.2008

A Few Thoughts on The Biennial

.
.
.
The Whitney Biennial, now heading into the home stretch, has been reviewed, reported, reviled, and relived so many times that I hesitate adding to the mix at this late date. There's no point in bashing it; the Biennial is what it is: a thematic look at a narrow slice of the current art world by one or two or a few curators who are as concerned about their own careers as they are about the art. It has always been so and very likely will always be thus. But I do have a few observations (and, let me add, here's where my blog's motto really lives up to its name):
.

. With all the lumber, fencing, sheetrock and shelving, it should have been underwritten by The Home Depot
.
. The good news: Women are a critical mass in this show .
.
.The bad news: Same stuff, different sex.--i.e. a giant kitty litter box?
.
.
. Anyone who spends money on a painting by Karen Kilimnick
deserves it
..
. Loved it: Lisa Sigal’s room installation (of a room)
.
. Mary Heilmann, Mary Heilmann: the only artist to have work in the Biennial and Wack
.
. One of the reason I like the art fairs better is that I get to see a lot of current painting
.
. Carol Diehl's often hilarious posts on the the language of the
Biennial notwithstanding, sometimes those "interstitial spaces" of verbiage are more compelling than the work. (Scroll down to March 28, too)
.
. What if they gave a Biennial and nobody went?
..
Top to bottom: William Cordoba, Karen Kilimnick, Mary Heilmann





4 comments:

Mark Staff Brandl said...

Wonderful post, Joanne! I'm getting addicted to your writing.

tackad said...

That's what I'm saying - what if everyone were to boycott the irrelevance that is the biennial ?
Maybe they'd have an art fair instead. Yes there's too many now, but at least it's be a start towards something better.

Joanne Mattera said...

Thanks, Mark, for the kind words.

Tackad, I was just kidding about "What if they gave a biennial and nobody went." I would never urge a boycott. I mean, people should go if they want, and shouldn't go if they don't. I have skipped several biennials in the past. It's usually at the bottom of my must-see list, but I was uptown to catch the Courbet show at the Met before it closed and to see a solo of paintings by Susan Schwalb at Galerie Mourlot--serene, beautiful painting--so I wandered in.

The work seemed very "young" --studentish. I'd be interested in a show that revisits Biennial exhibitors from the past, pairing a piece from the show they were in with something they're doing now. In other words, I'd be curious to see how maturity (and the need to pay the mortgage and health insurance)affects an artist's vision.

tackad said...

It just seems that any of OUR ideas would be much better than what they've been coming up with. My usual impression of the biennials is that they are just plain hokey. From an instution of that caliber - I've never been impressed in a positive way.
Seems to be a huge inside joke that some of us don't appreciate.