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Whitney Biennial 2008

On (the Lack of) Painting at the 2008 Biennial

With so little painting hung at the Whitney, it would have been a more radical gesture, and not really that much of a stretch, for the curators to have gone for broke and selected none at all. Examining what was finally chosen and how it is presented within the show might prove instructive, and not just on the changing status of painting in the 21st century, but also regarding the assertion and abdication of curatorial will.

In the current Biennial, painting seems to be handled with kid gloves, approached like a "viral" entity, quarantined from the primary form of the exhibition (installation), or else treated as installation art in its own right by being sequestered into individual, private rooms. Is this to protect other media from the "infection" of painting? or is it a belated effort to isolate and hopefully rekindle the creative spark of the medium, to counteract the "death of painting" that has been proclaimed so frequently over the last thirty years?

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