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Whitney Museum

Rehearsal for a review of the 2012 Whitney Biennial

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Omnipresence, Overdrive

Elisabeth Sussman at the media preview (speaking for herself and co-curator Jay Sanders): "We share a common problem. We know exactly what we want to do, and we want to do everything all the time.”

Everything is just about as hard to do as Nothing. Together they form a daunting dialectic, a binary of either total presence or total absence, total immersion or total negation, the one essentially necessitating its opposite. It seems a reasonable starting point for the alternate filling/emptying of a museum with images, sounds, light and action. With an emphasis on exploration and process, on film programs for each artist screened for one week, dance companies in residence for two weeks, itinerant musical and fashion performers, a polymorphous pursuit of recombinant activity, the 2012 Biennial exists on the heady continuum of Be Here Now/Be Here Never/Be Here Always. It's the Baba Ram Dass of exhibitions and would happily Catalog the Whole Earth if you let it. With artwork that generously bleeds into realms of the organic, the scientific and the encyclopedic, this Biennial is also the closest in recent memory to connote a contemporary Wunderkammer.

The Emily Fisher Landau Collection at the Whitney

Legacy: The Emily Fisher Landau Collection
Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street
February 10–May 1, 2011

February 10, 2011. In a bit of serendipity that is hardly lost on the Whitney Museum itself, the exhibition they just opened, of work from the collection of Emily Fisher Landau, is mounted in fourth floor galleries that already honor her name. The estimable Fisher Landau collection, totaling over 400 works, was pledged to the museum in May 2010 by their longtime trustee, who has also established an endowment for continuing support of the Biennial. The show currently on view, comprising just over 80 pieces, is assembled by Whitney curators Donna De Salvo and David Kiehl, and ranges from signature work by Andy Warhol, Edward Ruscha, Richard Artschwager and John Baldessari to a vintage 1980 Susan Rothenberg new image painting, a wealth of Jasper Johns screenprints, pristine early 60s works on paper by Agnes Martin, Carl Andre concrete poetry on typewritten sheets, Felix Gonzalez-Torres jigsaw puzzles, assemblages by Nayland Blake, photo portraiture by Peter Hujar and Nan Goldin, and an early Richard Prince nurse painting, to name but a few.

First Major US Museum Retrospective of Paul Thek at the Whitney, October 21, 2010–January 9, 2011

text: Whitney Museum press release

NEW YORK, August 6, 2010. An artist who defies classification, Paul Thek (1933–1988), the sculptor, painter, and creator of radical installations who was hailed for his work in the 1960s and early 70s, then nearly eclipsed within his own short lifetime, is the subject of an upcoming retrospective co-organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art and Carnegie Museum of Art. Paul Thek: Diver, A Retrospective, the first major exhibition in the United States to explore the work of the legendary American artist, debuts in the Whitney’s fourth-floor Emily Fisher Landau Galleries, from October 21, 2010 to January 9, 2011; it travels to Carnegie Museum of Art, from February 5 to May 1, 2011, and then to the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, from May 22 to September 4, 2011.

Charles Burchfield at the WHITNEY Curated by Robert Gober

James Kalm appreciates the efforts of the Whitney Museum and celebrity curator Robert Gober and is thrilled to bring viewers this glimpse of Charles Burchfield's "Heat Waves in a Swamp". Although classified as an "American Scene" painter during the 1930s, Burchfield was a true visionary artist. Using the humble medium of watercolor, his interpretations of the landscape and rustic urban settings, vibrate with a hallucinatory exuberance. Whether forest, field or street Burchfield's vision was open to cosmic harmonies that could overwhelm with their intensity or sometimes disturb with disquieting sinister qualities. Includes extended statements on the artist by curator Robert Gober.

The Whitney Biennial 2010 Part III

The Whitney Biennial 2010 Parts I & II

James Kalm returns to the scene of the crime. After being removed from the press list for the 2008 Biennial, and the subsequent getting busted by security and recording of that show on the down low, it seems the Whitney has decided to include the "Kalm Report" as a reputable member of the press for 2010's edition. This exhibition, curated by Francesco Bonami and Gary Carrion-Murayari, is touted as a national cross section of the most important and historical art produced during the past two years. Part I features the introduction by Adam Weinberg, and a walk through tour of the fourth floor.

Whitney Museum: The "Who Dat?" Biennial

The "Who Dat?" Biennial

Whitney Museum of American Art
February 23 - May 30, 2010

Adam Weinberg addressing the troops

Tuesday, February 23, 2010. 7:00 PM. In his charming remarks earlier this afternoon during the press opening of the less than charming 2010 Whitney Biennial, co-curator Francesco Bonami (who wistfully regretted how difficult it was convincing artists half his age to have dinner with him) alluded to the intrinsic arbitrariness of all Biennial exhibitions. As an institution just turned 75 years old, and facilitated under the venerable aegis of the Whitney Museum, each particular Biennial, despite its essential claim to showcase the best and brightest art production of the past two years, is still dependent on the whims and prejudices of its organizers. Hence the unavoidable hit-or-miss possibilities of every succeeding exhibition.

There is no cumulative formula for success, as new curators tend to establish new priorities and then select new artists as the avatars of same. If the turnover seems particularly extreme this year, even educated observers of the art scene might feel confronted by a "Who Dat?" Biennial, an exhibition at least partly populated by a fickle and jejune cast of characters.

Artists Announced for 2010 Whitney Biennial

The press release from the Whitney Museum arrived two days ago, on Friday morning December 11, 2009, so this information is already a bit old hat. But for those just returning from distant lands, the list for the next Biennial comprises 55 artists, making it one of the smallest in recent memory. By comparison, there were 100 participants in 2006 and 81 in 2008, although that last effort annexed the additional vast space of the Park Avenue Armory.

The pundits have rushed in to label this the Recessional Biennial, but any conscious need to downsize is possibly also based on the Whitney husbanding its resources for the projected expansion to their new downtown branch near the southern terminus of The High Line, with construction scheduled to begin next year. A less sprawling, more pristine and manicured show is just about guaranteed, which seems to reflect the general curatorial preferences of Francesco Bonami and Gary Carrion-Murayari, with each participating artist being allowed just one piece. Less work, fewer mini-retrospectives, greater consideration given to each inclusion, simpler logistics: all givens. And a cursory examination of the list promises more painting than in 2008. Then again, it could hardly have been less.

More Details Announced on Whitney Museum High Line Branch

from Carol Vogel in the NY Times:

Three years after reaching a tentative agreement with the city, the Whitney Museum of American Art is forging ahead with plans to build a second museum at the entrance to the High Line, the abandoned elevated railway line that has recently been transformed into a public park.

Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstraction, Whitney Museum

James Kalm partakes in the press preview for this icon of American Modernism. Over twenty years in the making, this exhibition surveys the lesser known but perhaps more profound side of O’Keeffe’s work, her abstraction. Beginning with her discovery and eventual relationship with Alfred Stieglitz in 1916, O’Keeffe was thrust to the stratosphere of the New York art scene. She was at the forefront of pursuing a type of organic abstraction that Stieglitz championed as America’s contribution to Modernism. Examples of O’Keeffe’s paintings covering nearly fifty years of development are on view. Includes brief statements by Director Adam D. Weinberg and the curatorial team lead by Barbara Haskell, Barbara Buhler Lynes and Sasha Nicholas.

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