This fall, the Whitney Museum of American Art will present Test Pattern, an exhibition that showcases the work of predominantly young and emerging artists who are questioning the ways in which we process visual information. All the works on view have entered the Museum’s permanent collection within the past four years and will be displayed in the Anne & Joel Ehrenkranz Lobby Gallery from August 22 through December 1. The exhibition is organized by Whitney senior curatorial assistant Laura Phipps and curatorial assistant Nicholas Robbins.
The Whitney Museum of American Art is the world’s leading museum of twentieth-century and contemporary art of the United States. Focusing particularly on works by living artists, the Whitney is celebrated for presenting important exhibitions and for its renowned collection, which comprises over 19,000 works by more than 2,900 artists. With a history of exhibiting the most promising and influential artists and provoking intense debate, the Whitney Biennial, the Museum’s signature exhibition, has become the most important survey of the state of contemporary art in the United States. In addition to its landmark exhibitions, the Museum is known internationally for events and educational programs of exceptional significance and as a center for research, scholarship, and conservation.
The exhibition includes photographs, paintings, prints, and sculpture by more than a dozen artists, including Michele Abeles, Tauba Auerbach, Walead Beshty, Mathew Cerletty, Leslie Hewitt, Nick Mauss, Seth Price, Lucy Raven, Matt Saunders, Meredyth Sparks, and Kaari Upson. The title, Test Pattern, refers to a graphic tool used for projectors and other devices to synchronize signals for optimum color and clarity. For this presentation, it also suggests a metaphor for how the featured artists address the manipulation of visual information and question the legibility of images. The works in Test Pattern demonstrate shared concerns with issues of reproduction and materiality, as well as interests in the processes of layering, obscuring, and complicating content. For example, the photographs of Walead Beshty, a Los Angeles–based photographer, bear the marks made by an airport scanner when his film traveled through security. Meanwhile Matt Saunders, an American who is based in Berlin, prints photographs from paintings he makes of movie stills, resulting in mysterious and partially obscured images. And Lucy Raven, who lives and works in California, incorporates actual test patterns for film and sound into her prints, illuminating their paradoxical nature as they are “images you’re not supposed to see, made to make you see better.”
As opposed to the ever accelerating, and apparently seamless, transmission of visual information across technology, social networks, and other media, these artists seem intent on encouraging slower and more nuanced ways of looking. This exhibition underscores the Whitney’s long-standing commitment to supporting young artists early in their careers. These new additions to the Whitney’s collection attest to the generosity and commitment of the museum’s acquisition committees and the many museum patrons who have donated artworks and supported acquisitions.
The Whitney Museum is located at 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street, New York City. Museum hours are: Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., closed Monday and Tuesday. General admission: $20. Full-time students and visitors ages 19–25 and 62 & over: $16. Visitors 18 & under and Whitney members: FREE. Admission is pay-what-you-wish on Fridays, 6–9 p.m.
Founded by sculptor and arts patron Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1930, the Whitney was first housed on West 8th Street in Greenwich Village. The Museum relocated in 1954 to West 54th Street and, in 1966, inaugurated its present home, designed by Marcel Breuer, at 945 Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side. While its vibrant program of exhibitions and events continues uptown, the Whitney is moving forward with a new building project, designed by Renzo Piano, in downtown Manhattan. Located at the corner of Gansevoort and Washington Streets in the Meatpacking District, at the southern entrance to the High Line, the new building, which has generated immense momentum and support, will enable the Whitney to vastly increase the size and scope of its exhibition and programming space. Ground was broken on the new building in May 2011, and it is projected to open to the public in 2015.
For general information, please call (212) 570-3600 or visit www.whitney.org.