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7.3.14

The Last Uptown Biennial


The 77th Whitney Biennial, the last to take place in the Whitney Museum’s Marcel Breuer building, is set to open. In the future, the show will be moved to its new Chelsea waterfront location.

Considered a “snapshot” of the current American art scene, the 2014 edition, curated by Anthony Elms, Stuart Comer, and Michelle Grabner, includes 103 artists, diverse in age, location, and, medium. Men still outnumber women, some artists were actually born before 1960 -- surprise! -- and painting, some of it good, is well represented.

Starting on the fourth floor, the most alive with color -- Amy Sillman’s thick swashes of paint make for a familiar starting point and Sterling Ruby’s trio of over-sized ceramic -- are they bumper cars? -- are unavoidable. Sheila Hick’s floor-to-ceiling, multicolored woven textiles say, "Hug me," and Joel Otterson's Rags to Riches, a crazy-wonderful beaded curtain complete with a hem of rusted old tools, and Zoe Leonard's room-sized camera oscura are probably the best works in the show.




It’s easy to quibble with this exhibit -- we always will, it's part of the fun. Why were some artists chosen and not others? WTF is this or what is that particular work doing here? Or just plain meh.

There will undoubtedly be something for everyone's sensibilities in this show. My issue, and I've got a few for sure, is that this like most biennials is a big mess of stuff, and as you make your way from the fourth floor back down to the lobby, it gets more tedious with each. There is so much great art being made out there in America that this show should be rockin' - but it ain't.

More images from the Biennial can be seen on my flickr.

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