This Just In!: David Breslin And Adrienne Edwards Will Curate The 2021 Whitney Biennial

The Whitney Museum of American Art announced today that its 2021 Biennial, the 80th edition, will be co-organized by two brilliant members of the Museum’s curatorial department, David Breslin and Adrienne Edwards. The 2021 Whitney Biennial exhibition will open in the spring of 2021 and is presented by Tiffany & Co., which has been the lead sponsor of the Biennial since the Museum’s move downtown.

Image credit: Adrienne Edwards and David Breslin. Photograph by Bryan Derballa

Alice Pratt Brown Director Adam D. Weinberg noted: “The central aim of the Biennial is to be a barometer of contemporary American art. Each Biennial is a reflection of the cultural and social moment as it intersects with the passions, perspectives, and tastes of the curators. David and Adrienne will be a great team. They are inquisitive, curious, and are acutely attuned to the art of the current moment. No doubt they will bring fresh outlooks to this historic exhibition and reinvent it for these complex and challenging times.”

With a long history of exhibiting the most promising and influential artists and provoking debate, the Whitney Biennial is the Museum’s signature survey of the state of contemporary art in the United States. The Biennial, an invitational show of work produced in the preceding two years, was introduced by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1932, and it is the longest continuous series of exhibitions in the country to survey recent developments in American art.

Initiated by founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1932, the Whitney Biennial is the longest-running survey of American art. More than 3,600 artists have participated, including Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jacob Lawrence, Alexander Calder, Louise Bourgeois, Joan Mitchell, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Oldenburg, Roy Lichtenstein, Agnes Martin, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Serra, Lynda Benglis, Frank Bowling, Joan Jonas, Barbara Kruger, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jenny Holzer, David Wojnarowicz, Glenn Ligon, Yvonne Rainer, Zoe Leonard, Kara Walker, Cindy Sherman, Nan Goldin, Mike Kelley, Lorna Simpson, Renée Green, Wade Guyton, Julie Mehretu, Cecilia Vicuña, Mark Bradford, Daniel Joseph Martinez, Ellen Gallagher, Rachel Harrison, Wu Tsang, Nick Mauss, Sarah Michelson, Laura Owens, Postcommodity, Pope.L, Jeffrey Gibson, and Tiona Nekkia McClodden.

The biennials were originally organized by medium, with painting alternating with sculpture and works on paper. Starting in 1937, the Museum shifted to yearly exhibitions called Annuals. The current format—a survey show of work in all media occurring every two years—has been in place since 1973. The 2019 Biennial (still on partial view on the Museum’s sixth floor until October 27) was organized by two Whitney curators, Jane Panetta and Rujeko Hockley. It featured seventy-five artists and collectives working in painting, sculpture, installation, film and video, photography, performance, and sound.

David Breslin was recently named the DeMartini Family Curator and Director of Curatorial Initiatives, a role he will assume this month. Since joining the Museum in 2016 as DeMartini Family Curator and Director of the Collection, Breslin has spearheaded the Museum’s collection-related activities, curating a series of major collection exhibitions and overseeing acquisitions. Working closely with his curatorial colleagues, he has organized or co-organized four timely and thematized collection displays, including Where We Are: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1900–1960, An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017, Spilling Over: Painting Color in the 1960s, and The Whitney’s Collection: Selections from 1900 to 1965, which is currently on view on the Museum’s seventh floor. In 2018, he co-curated (with David Kiehl) the landmark retrospective David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night.

Breslin came to the Whitney from the Menil Drawing Institute, where he created an ambitious program of exhibitions and public and scholarly events and helped to shape the design of the Institute’s new facility. He also oversaw work on the catalogue raisonné of the drawings of Jasper Johns and grew the collection. Prior to the Menil, Breslin served as the associate director of the research and academic program and associate curator of contemporary projects at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA; he also oversaw the Clark’s residential fellowship program and taught in the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art. Breslin co-edited Art History and Emergency: Crises in the Visual Arts and Humanities (Yale University Press, 2016), a volume that grew from a Clark Conference he organized with art historian Darby English.

In 2018, Adrienne Edwards was named Engell Speyer Family Curator and Curator of Performance at the Whitney. Previously, she served as curator of Performa since 2010 and as Curator at Large for the Walker Art Center since 2016.

At the Whitney, Edwards curated Jason Moran, the artist’s first museum show, now on view on the Museum’s eighth floor. She originated the exhibition at the Walker in 2018; it previously traveled to the ICA Boston and the Wexner Center for the Arts. The exhibition features a series of performances, Jazz on a High Floor in the Afternoon, curated by Edwards and Moran. She organized the event commencing the construction of David Hammons’s Day’s End, featuring a commission by composer Henry Threadgill and a “water” tango on the Hudson River by the Fire Department of the City of New York’s Marine Company 9. Earlier this year, Edwards organized Moved by the Motion: Sudden Rise, a series of performances based on a text co-written by Wu Tsang, boychild, and Fred Moten, which presented a collage of words, film, movements, and sounds.

For Performa, Edwards realized new boundary-defying commissions, as well as pathfinding conferences and film programs with a wide range of over forty international artists. While at the Walker, she co-led the institution-wide Mellon Foundation Interdisciplinary Initiative, an effort to expand ways of commissioning, studying, collecting, documenting, and conserving cross-disciplinary works. Edwards’s curatorial projects have included the critically acclaimed exhibition and catalogue Blackness in Abstraction, hosted by Pace Gallery in 2016. She also organized Frieze’s Artist Award and Live program in New York in 2018. Edwards taught art history and visual studies at New York University and The New School, and she is a contributor to the National Gallery of Art’s Center for the Advanced Study in Visual Art’s forthcoming publication Black Modernisms.

Scott Rothkopf, the Whitney’s Senior Deputy Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, said, “David and Adrienne truly represent the best spirit and ideals of the Whitney. Not only are they devoted to—and beloved by—living artists, but they bring to the art of our time a deep historical and scholarly awareness. The most recent editions of the Biennial have reaffirmed its vitality and relevance, and I look forward to discovering how another pair of Whitney curators will lend their voices to our signature exhibition.”

Whitney Commences Installation Of “Day’s End,” A Permanent Public Art Project By David Hammons, In Hudson River Park

NEW YORK, September 17, 2019—The Whitney Museum of American Art yesterday celebrated the groundbreaking of Day’s End, a permanent public art project by New York-based artist David Hammons (b. 1943). Slated for completion in the fall of 2020, the project was developed in collaboration with the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT). The sculpture will be located in Hudson River Park along the southern edge of Gansevoort Peninsula, directly across from the Museum, within the footprint of the former Pier 52. Hammons’s Day’s End (2020) derives its inspiration and name from Gordon Matta-Clark‘s 1975 artwork in which he cut openings into the existing, abandoned Pier 52 shed transforming it into monumental sculpture.

Rendering of Day’s End by David Hammons, as seen from the Whitney Museum of American Art. Courtesy Guy Nordenson and Associates

David Hammons was born in Springfield, Illinois, in 1943. He moved to Los Angeles in 1963, attending the Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts) and the Otis Art Institute. In 1974, he moved to New York, where he still lives and works. Hammons was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1984 and a MacArthur Fellowship in 1991. In 1990 his work was the subject of a career survey, David Hammons: Rousing the Rubble, 1969–1990, at PS1. His work is in numerous collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art; The Museum of Modern Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and Tate Britain. His art has profoundly influenced a younger generation of artists.

An open structure—a three-dimensional drawing in space—that precisely follows the outline, dimensions, and location of the original Pier 52 structure, Hammons’s Day’s End, will be a “ghost monument” to the earlier work by Matta-Clark and allude to the history of New York’s waterfront, from the original commercial piers that stood along the Hudson River during the heyday of New York’s shipping industry to the reclaimed piers that became an important gathering place for the gay and artist communities. Open to everyone, Day’s End is designed to coexist with HRPT’s planned park at Gansevoort Peninsula and to bring visitors down to the water’s edge.

The celebration took place at sunset in the Museum’s third floor Susan and John Hess Family Gallery and Theater, overlooking the project site on the Gansevoort Peninsula. Adam D. Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney, paid tribute to Hammons, an internationally acclaimed artist with longtime ties to the Museum and deep roots in New York, and thanked the project’s funders and collaborators during the evening’s remarks.

The commencement of the installation was heralded by a presentation on the Hudson River by the Fire Department of New York City’s Marine Company 9 and their fireboat the Fire Fighter II. The performance, a “water tango,” featured a display of the boat’s water cannons and served as a prelude to the premiere of a new piece by Pulitzer Prize–winning composer and bandleader Henry Threadgill (b. 1944). A sextet debuted the overture to Threadgill’s 6 to 5, 5 to 6, a two-part work commissioned by the Whitney on the occasion of Hammons’s Day’s End. The composition responds to the architectural structure and engineering schematics of the artwork. Its title is based upon the preponderance of the numbers 5 and 6, and their myriad combinations and subdivisions, found in the project’s design. The commission is overseen by Adrienne Edwards, the Engell Speyer Family Curator and Curator of Performance at the Whitney. The second part of the commission will premiere at the unveiling of Day’s End in fall 2020.

Henry Threadgill was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1944, and is one of only three jazz artists to ever win a Pulitzer Prize. Playing a myriad of instruments in his childhood from percussion to clarinet to saxophone, by his late teens he joined the Muhal Richard Abrams’ Experimental Band, which later expanded into the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). In 1970, Threadgill moved to New York City, exploring approaches to jazz music with various group acts over the next forty years—from AIR (Artists In Residence), his 1970s trio that reimagined ragtime without the piano, to his current band, Zooid, representing a culmination of decades of his musical process as a composer. In 2016, Threadgill was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in music for Zooid’s album In for a Penny, In for a Pound (2015). He was also the recipient of the 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award, 2015 Doris Duke Impact Award, 2008 United States Artist Fellowship, and 2003 Guggenheim Fellowship.

Weinberg also announced that the Whitney will present an exhibition, drawn from the Museum’s permanent collection, related to Matta-Clark’s seminal work that inspired Hammons’s sculpture. Titled Around Day’s End: Downtown New York, 1970–1986, and on view from July through October 2020, the exhibition is organized by Whitney assistant curator Laura Phipps and will include approximately fifteen artists, in addition to Matta-Clark, who worked in the downtown New York milieu of the 1970s and early 1980s. The work of these artists, including Alvin Baltrop, Joan Jonas, and Martin Wong, embodies ideas of artistic intervention into the urban fabric of New York City. A photographic installation by Dawoud Bey, who will also be the subject of a survey exhibition at the Whitney in the fall of 2020, captures Hammons at work on other outdoor pieces in New York.

The Whitney’s collaboration with David Hammons, one of the most influential artists of our time, represents our profound commitment to working with living artists and supporting their visions intimate or grand. The open form of the work—a building without a roof, walls, floor, doors or windows—is a welcoming metaphor that represents our commitment to community and civic good,” said Weinberg. “Just steps away from the Whitney, Day’s End celebrates the history of the Hudson River waterfront and the neighborhood and the City. We are deeply grateful for the support Day’s End has already received from New York City, as well as neighborhood, arts, historic preservation, LGBTQ, commercial and environmental groups, and we look forward to the ribbon-cutting in fall of 2020.”

“This inspiring project will celebrate the historic waterfront and perfectly align with our newly designed park on the peninsula,” said Madelyn Wils, President & CEO of the Hudson River Park Trust. “We’re incredibly appreciative of this collaboration with our neighbors at the Whitney and looking forward to seeing the project take shape at what will certainly be one of the most visually dynamic spots in all of Hudson River Park.”

In tandem with the realization of the project, the Whitney Museum is developing rich interpretive materials including the Whitney’s first podcast series, videos, neighborhood walking tours, and a children’s guide. These will take Hammons’s Day’s End (2020) and Matta-Clark’s Day’s End (1975) as jumping-off points for exploring the history of the waterfront and the Meatpacking District, the role of artists in the neighborhood, the diverse cultural and ethnic histories, its LGBTQ history, the commercial history, and the ecology of the estuary. New research, archival materials, and oral history interviews will all be incorporated. The interpretative materials will be accessible on site and online, including for mobile use.

Day’s End is developed in collaboration with HRPT and will be donated by David Hammons and the Whitney Museum to the Park upon completion. The project will rise directly south of the HRPT’s planned Gansevoort Peninsula Park, which will include a sandy beach area with kayak access and a seating area; a salt marsh with habitat enhancements; a large sports field; and on its western side, picnic tables and lounge chairs. That section of the park is slated to start construction next year and open in 2022.

The Whitney, HRPT, and Hammons are committed to ensuring that the artwork becomes an integral part of the local area and waterfront fabric—as were the working piers that preceded it. The Whitney will continue to share its plans and engage in a dialogue with the community over the coming months as the project installation continues.

Attendees at the event included New York State Senator Brad Hoylman; Deputy Mayor of Housing and Economic Development for New York City Vicki Been; Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer; Commissioner, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Tom Finkelpearl; Hudson River Park President & CEO Madelyn Wils; Whitney Trustees Jill Bikoff, Neil G. Bluhm, Nancy Carrington Crown, Gaurav Kapadia, Jonathan O. Lee, Brooke Garber Neidich, Julie Ostrover, Nancy Poses, Scott Resnick, Richard D. Segal, Fern Kaye Tessler, Thomas E. Tuft, and Fred Wilson; Whitney curators Scott Rothkopf, Senior Deputy Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, Adrienne Edwards, Carol Mancusi-Ungaro, Elisabeth Sussman, and Laura Phipps; and artists Derrick Adams, Jules Allen, Dawoud Bey, Torkwase Dyson, Awol Erizku, Rachel Harrison, Maren Hassinger, Tiona Nekkia McClodden, Dave McKenzie, Julie Mehretu, Sarah Michelson, Jason Moran, and Adam Pendleton.

Tiona Nekkia Mcclodden Receives The Whitney’s 2019 Bucksbaum Award

Adam D. Weinberg, the Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, announced that Tiona Nekkia McClodden is the recipient of the 2019 Bucksbaum Award. McClodden was chosen from among the seventy-five artists whose works are being presented in the 2019 Whitney Biennial, currently on view at the Museum through September 22. In her interdisciplinary practice, McClodden utilizes documentary film, experimental video, sculpture, and sound installation to explore the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality.

Image credit: Tiona Nekkia McClodden (1981-), I prayed to the wrong god for you., 2019. Multichannel video installation, color, sound; and six handcarved tools in vitrine. Image courtesy the artist and Company Gallery, New York

Weinberg commented, “McClodden’s work is bold and original and her contribution to the Biennial is extraordinarily rich with cultural, historical, and spiritual resonances. I’m delighted that she is receiving the Bucksbaum Award, which was initiated by our longtime trustee Melva Bucksbaum and her family to encourage living artists and to highlight American artists of particular promise.”

Scott Rothkopf, Senior Deputy Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, who served on the jury, commented, “Beyond the strength of McClodden’s contribution to the Biennial, the jury was moved by the innovative scope of her broader artistic project. As a writer, curator, event organizer, and speaker, she has generously shone a light on under-recognized histories and championed members of her community in a way that expands how we think about the work of an artist today.”

In addition to Rothkopf, this year’s seven-member Bucksbaum jury was comprised of three other jurors from within the Museum: David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of Curatorial Initiatives; Jane Panetta, Co-Curator of the 2019 Whitney Biennial and Director of the Collection; and Rujeko Hockley, Co-Curator of the 2019 Whitney Biennial and Assistant Curator; as well as three jurors from outside of the Museum: Ryan N. Dennis, Curator and Art Programs Director, Project Row Houses (Houston, TX); René Morales, Curator, Pérez Art Museum (Miami, FL); and Lumi Tan, Curator, The Kitchen (New York, NY).

Melva Bucksbaum (1933–2015), a patron of the arts, collector, and Whitney trustee from 1996 until her death, launched the Bucksbaum Award in 2000. Her daughter, Mary E. Bucksbaum Scanlan, now herself a member of the Whitney’s Board, remarked: “The Bucksbaum Award recognizes artists whose works are inventive, urgent, and promise to be enduring. I am proud to continue this tradition, which was so important to my mother, and I am thrilled that Tiona Nekkia McClodden is joining the illustrious group of artists whom we have honored.”

McClodden, who lives and works in Philadelphia, combines video and sculptural elements in her 2019 Biennial work, I prayed to the wrong god for you, which merges the spiritual and the artistic to confront the relationship between Christianity and colonialism. The multichannel video installation includes three projection screens and three monitors, as well as vitrines with talismanic objects that are seen in the videos. The work depicts a highly personal ritual dedicated to Shango, a deity within the Afro-Cuban religion Santería/Lucumí, whose origins can be traced to the Yoruba people of Nigeria. To begin the project, McClodden cut down a cedar fir tree and carved six tools from the wood of the tree. Traveling with these wooden objects across the United States, Cuba, and Nigeria, the artist engaged in ritual with Shango. The videos, which chart the labor and time of this undertaking, offer an account of diasporic devotion and the significance of objects as storytellers.

McClodden was born in 1981 in Blytheville, AR. She has exhibited and screened work at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Art Toronto’s VERGE Video program; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; MoMA PS1; Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland; Kansai Queer Film Festival, Osaka and Kyoto, Japan; and the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, among others. She has been awarded the 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship in Fine Arts, the 2018–19 Keith Haring Fellow in Art and Activism at Bard College, and the 2017 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award.

The Bucksbaum Award is given in each Biennial year in recognition of an artist, chosen from those included in the Biennial, whose work demonstrates a singular combination of talent and imagination. The selected artist is considered by the jurors to have the potential to make a lasting impact on the history of American art, based on the excellence of their past work, as well as of their present work in the Biennial. The award is accompanied by a check for $100,000. McClodden is the tenth Bucksbaum laureate to be named since the Award was introduced.

The nine previous Bucksbaum recipients are Paul Pfeiffer (2000), Irit Batsry (2002), Raymond Pettibon (2004), Mark Bradford (2006), Omer Fast (2008), Michael Asher (2010), Sarah Michelson (2012), Zoe Leonard (2014), and Pope.L (2017).

McClodden will participate in a public program at the Museum that will take place in the coming months. Further details will be forthcoming.

Funding for the Bucksbaum Award is provided by an endowment from the Martin Bucksbaum Family Foundation.

The Whitney to Present First U.S. Retrospective of Jimmie Durham

The Whitney Museum of American Art will host the first North American retrospective of artist, performer, poet, essayist, and activist Jimmie Durham (b. 1940), one of the most compelling and multifaceted figures working internationally today. On view from November 3, 2017, to January 28, 2018, Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World features approximately 120 works from 1970 to the present, including sculpture, drawing, collage, printmaking, photography, and video.

Jimmie Durham

Jimmie Durham, Self-Portrait Pretending to Be a Stone Statue of Myself, 2006. Color photograph. Edition of 1 + 1 AP. 31 ¾ × 24 in. (80.7 × 60.9 cm). Collection of fluid archives, Karlsruhe. Courtesy of ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe.

Durham has, over the past nearly five decades, produced wryly political art, often raising questions about authenticity and making visible the ongoing repercussions of colonialism, both within the U.S. and globally. Frequently working with a combination of natural and found materials, he approaches his subjects with a poetic wit and a potent blend of irony and insight.

The Whitney is delighted to present the work of Jimmie Durham, who has made a singular contribution to contemporary art since the 1970s,” said Adam D. Weinberg, the Whitney’s Alice Pratt Brown Director. “This retrospective provides an opportunity for audiences to gain a deeper understanding of Durham’s expansive practice, or perhaps to discover him for the first time. We are grateful to the Hammer Museum, in particular to director Ann Philbin and curator Anne Ellegood, for organizing this long-overdue retrospective.”

Jimmie Durham was born in 1940 in Houston, Texas, and raised in southwestern Arkansas. In the late 1960s, he enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts in Geneva, where he worked primarily in performance and sculpture. At this time, he formed an organization called Incomindios, with Indigenous friends from South America, which attempted to coordinate and encourage support for the struggle of Indigenous people throughout the Americas. A lifelong activist, he returned to the U.S. at the end of 1973 during the occupation at Wounded Knee, in South Dakota, and became a full-time organizer for the American Indian Movement (AIM); he would become a member of their Central Council in 1974. That same year AIM established the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) and appointed Durham the executive director. Durham relocated to New York City to run the IITC and become the representative of American Indians to the United Nations.

Durham resigned from AIM in 1979 and returned to a focus on art making. He was the director of the Foundation for the Community of Artists in New York from 1981 to 1983 and edited their monthly Art and Artists Newspaper (formerly Artworkers News) from 1982 to 1985. In 1987, Durham moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico, and then in 1994 to Europe, where he has lived in Dublin, Brussels, Marseille, Rome, Berlin, and Naples. Since leaving the U.S., Durham has immersed himself in the culture and history of each adopted home, drawing on the local language, materials, and architecture to reframe his larger political, historical, and philosophical questions. Throughout his travels, he has dryly declared wherever he happens to be—from Mexico City to Berlin to Naples—the “center of the world.

Whitney curator Elisabeth Sussman, who is installing the exhibition at the Whitney together with assistant curator Laura Phipps, noted, “Although Jimmie Durham has lived as an expatriate for decades, his work has remained connected to crucial developments in American art, such as found-object assemblage, appropriation of text and image, institutional critique, performance art, and the politics of representation. This is Durham’s first substantial solo show in the United States in twenty-two years and it’s a rare chance to celebrate his extraordinary accomplishments as an artist and to revel in his wit, his fascination with language, and his remarkable use of materials.

This exhibition, as it has traveled from its previous venues at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, has revived debates, dating back to the early 1990s, over the artist’s claims of Cherokee ancestry. Durham is not recognized as a citizen by any of the Cherokee tribes, which as sovereign nations determine their own membership. Recent discussions of this point have prompted a wider audience to confront important questions regarding tribal sovereignty, and what it means—or does not mean—for an artist to self-identify as being Native American. This exhibition does not attempt to resolve these questions. Rather it contends that Durham’s work—with its singular and vital critique of Western systems of knowledge and power—offers a crucial perspective on the history of American art and life.

Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World was organized by the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and curated by Anne Ellegood, senior curator, with MacKenzie Stevens, curatorial assistant. It traveled to the Walker Art Center prior to coming to the Whitney, where its installation is being overseen by Elisabeth Sussman, curator and Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography, and assistant curator Laura Phipps. Following the Whitney, the exhibition will travel to the Remai Modern in Saskatoon.

Durham’s exhibition history spans several decades and continents. Recent solo exhibitions include God’s Children, God’s Poems (Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, 2017); Here at the Center (Neue Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin, 2015); Venice: Objects, Work and Tourism (Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice, 2015); and Various Items and Complaints (Serpentine Gallery, London, 2015). Group shows include Take It or Leave It: Institution, Image, Ideology (Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, 2014) and Documenta (2012), among many others. A retrospective of his work—A Matter of Life and Death and Singing—was organized by the Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, Antwerp (2012), and a survey of his work from 1994 forward, Pierres rejetées, took place at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2009).

Durham’s works are included in major public collections around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Tate Modern, London; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, Antwerp; the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent; the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; and the Museo Jumex, Mexico City.

Durham’s work is also part of The Whitney’s permanent collection. Self Portrait was included in the Museum’s inaugural show in its downtown home in 2015, America is Hard to See, and in the 1998 exhibition Art at the End of the Century: Selections from the Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as in the exhibition The American Century: Art and Culture 1900-2000 (Part II). His work also appeared at the Whitney in the 1993 Biennial, the 2006 Biennial, and the 2014 Biennial. Durham has also co-curated a number of exhibitions, including Ni’ Go Tlunh A Doh Ka (We Are Always Turning Around On Purpose) at the Amelie A. Wallace Gallery, State University of New York Old Westbury, Long Island, New York, in 1986 (co-curated with Jean Fisher); We The People at Artists Space, New York, in 1987 (co-curated with Jean Fisher; special advisors Edgar Heap of Birds and G. Peter Jemison); and The American West, at Compton Verney in Warwickshire, England, in 2005 (co-curated with Richard W. Hill).

An avid essayist and poet, Durham has published many texts in journals such as Artforum, Art Journal, and Third Text. His book of poems, Columbus Day, was published in 1983 by West End Press, Minneapolis. A book of his collected essays, A Certain Lack of Coherence, was published in 1993 by Kala Press. In 2013, Jimmie Durham: Waiting to Be Interrupted, Selected Writings 1993-2012 was published by Mousse Publishing and Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, Antwerp, and his book of poetry Poems That Do Not Go Together was published by Edition Hansjörg Maye. Continue reading

The Whitney To Present Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium

Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium, to be presented at The Whitney Museum of American Art from July 14 through October 1, 2017, is the first retrospective to survey the groundbreaking Brazilian artist’s entire career, including the formative years he spent in New York in the 1970s. One of the most influential Latin American artists of the post–World War II period, Oiticica (1937–80) was a tireless innovator, from his start with the Neo-Concrete movement to his groundbreaking environmental installations. Co-organized by the Whitney together with the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago, the exhibition presents a wide array of his paintings, interactive sculptures, films, audiovisual works, writings, and environments.

Hélio Oiticica (b. 1937), PN1 Penetrable (PN1 Penetrável), 1960. César and Claudio Oiticica Collection, Rio de Janeiro. © César and Claudio Oiticica, Rio de Janeiro

Hélio Oiticica (b. 1937), PN1 Penetrable (PN1 Penetrável), 1960. César and Claudio Oiticica Collection, Rio de Janeiro. © César and Claudio Oiticica, Rio de Janeiro

Oiticica was one of the most daring artists to appear anywhere in the years following World War II,” said Elisabeth Sussman, co-curator of the exhibition. “In conceiving this show, it was particularly important to us to focus attention on Oiticica’s presence in New York City in the 1970s, a time when many international artists came to live and work here. The expansion of his ideas into film, photography, and writing has been fully explored, as never before, in the research for this exhibition, and the works, some displayed for the first time, identify Oiticica as a paradigmatic presence in the global expansion of art practice in that decade.

Co-curator Donna De Salvo commented: “Oiticica’s departure from traditional notions of the static art object and his transformation of the viewer into an active participant were part of a larger, international desire to integrate art and life. Though his reputation is due primarily to his earlier work in Brazil, Oiticica was drawn to the scene of artistic experimentation in New York, and the eight years he spent working in the United States had a huge impact on his thought and continued to shape his art after his return to Brazil. By calling attention to the distinct differences that he absorbed in each locale, we hope to further the notion of art history as one comprised of multiple stories, and emphasize the Whitney’s expansive definition of who belongs in a museum of American art. This openness to patterns of artistic migration and cross-cultural thinking has a long history at the Whitney, which we are delighted to extend with this important exhibition.”

During his brief but remarkable career, Oiticica seamlessly melded formal and social concerns in his art, seeking to be internationally relevant and, at the same time, specifically Brazilian. The exhibition begins with elegant, geometric works on paper (1955–58): formal investigations in painting and drawing. These dynamic compositions gave way to more radical works as Oiticica became increasingly interested in surpassing the limits of traditional painting. By 1959, his painterly-sculptural Spatial Reliefs and Nuclei broke free of the wall and morphed into three-dimensional investigations of color and form. The Nuclei, composed of panels suspended from the ceiling, created areas through which the viewer could walk.

Throughout the 1960s and ’70s, Oiticica moved further toward the destabilization of the art form, making art that is intended for the viewer to manipulate, wear, and inhabit, including his Parangolés, wearable paintings inspired in part by samba schools in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, and Penetrables, colorful structures for viewers to navigate. In addition to viewing works on display, visitors will be invited to engage interactively with some of the artist’s works.

As Oiticica became further interested in bringing his art into the everyday, he began to create total environments suffused with color, texture, and tactile materials which were increasingly immersive in nature and transformed the viewer from a spectator to an active participant. The exhibition will include a number of these large-scale installations, including Tropicália and Eden. “Tropicália,” a name subsequently borrowed by the musician Caetano Veloso for his anthem against Brazil’s dictatorship, became an important and powerful movement in all the arts. Continue reading

Generous Gift From The Donald And Barbara Zucker Family Foundation Will Support Whitney’s Popular Pay-What-You-Wish Hours On Friday Evenings

Adam D. Weinberg, the Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, announced today that a generous gift has been made by The Donald and Barbara Zucker Family Foundation to sponsor the Museum’s weekly Pay-What-You-Wish admission hours on Friday evenings from 7 to 10 pm.

This is an immensely significant gift to the Whitney and above all for the public good,” said Mr. Weinberg. “Pay-What-You-Wish admission on Friday evenings enables a wider range of audiences to visit the Museum and experience all that the Whitney offers, especially those who might not be able to afford to visit otherwise. These hours are also extremely popular with a younger segment of our audience, including artists and neighbors, and are an especially important aspect of our commitment to broaden accessibility. I so admire and am deeply touched by the Zuckers’ social conscience and great generosity. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts for supporting our Pay-What-You-Wish Fridays, on behalf of the thousands upon thousands of people who will use this opportunity to visit the Whitney.

Barbara Hrbek Zucker has been a long-time philanthropic champion in the areas of mental health, animal welfare, conservation, education, and the arts. Mrs. Zucker has served as a trustee of the Wildlife Conservation Society, on the board of the Animal Rescue Fund in East Hampton, and as a trustee of the North Shore–LIJ Health System. She was honored as Woman of the Year for her support of the Angel Guardian Home in Brooklyn and received the Veritas Award from the Dominican Sisters of Amityville. Most recently, Mrs. Zucker has been named chair of the board of directors of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.

Donald Zucker is chief executive of the Donald Zucker Company and Manhattan Skyline, a leading residential developer. He was born in New York City and raised in Brooklyn, where he attended public school. Mr. Zucker has been active in the New York City business community and governmental affairs throughout his working career. He is an active member of the executive committee of North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System, has served as president of the Jewish Center of the Hamptons, and is an avid collector of art.

This gift ensures that the Whitney can continue to be an educational and cultural resource for all New Yorkers, regardless of their ability to pay for an admission ticket,” said Kathryn Potts, Associate Director and Helena Rubinstein Chair of Education at the Whitney. “Our Pay-What-You-Wish hours open up the Museum to new visitors and over time will help the Whitney to build an audience that is as diverse as New York City itself. We are deeply grateful to The Donald and Barbara Zucker Family Foundation for its magnanimous and meaningful sponsorship of this essential program.”

The Whitney Museum of American Art to Showcase Transformative Gift: Collected by Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner

November 20, 2015 – March 6, 2016

Celebrating an extraordinary and transformative gift of more than 850 works collectively given to the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Centre Georges Pompidou by Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner, both institutions will present consecutive exhibitions featuring a selection of works from the gift. The Whitney’s presentation of Collected by Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner opens on November 20 in the Museum’s new downtown home and runs through March 6, 2016. The Pompidou’s exhibition follows the New York presentation, opening in Paris on June 9, 2016. The exhibition is organized by Elisabeth Sussman, curator and Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Christine Macel, chief curator and head of the department of contemporary and prospective creation, Centre Pompidou, with Elisabeth Sherman, assistant curator, Whitney Museum of American Art. An illustrated catalogue documenting the collection will accompany the exhibitions.

Bernadette Corporation, Creation of a False Feeling, 2000. Inkjet print: sheet, 70 1/2 × 49 13/16 (179.1 × 126.5); image, 60 11/16 × 47 1/16 (154.1 × 119.5). Promised gift of Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner P.2014.10

Bernadette Corporation, Creation of a False Feeling, 2000. Inkjet print: sheet, 70 1/2 × 49 13/16 (179.1 × 126.5); image, 60 11/16 × 47 1/16 (154.1 × 119.5). Promised gift of Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner P.2014.10

Adam D. Weinberg, the Whitney’s Alice Pratt Brown Director, noted, “We are delighted to present this exhibition in honor of the magnanimous gift of art we received from Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner—one of the largest in the Whitney’s history and a tremendous statement of support for the Museum and its new building. Thea and Ethan are among the most astute collectors of late twentieth-century and early twenty-first-century art and their gift adds enormous strength to the Whitney’s collection. We are deeply grateful to them and are pleased to be collaborating with our friends at the Pompidou.”

This exhibition celebrates this remarkable gift as well as the perspicacious collecting of Westreich Wagner and Wagner by exploring several of the ideas and themes that recur in the collection across generations, mediums, and nationalities: the rise of mass media and the darker side of advertising; the adoption of street style and the punk aesthetic; the decorative arts and their ability to communicate often political messages; reflections on how technology has radically altered commerce, communication, and industry; and the artist as celebrity, among others.

Charline von Heyl, Boogey, 2004. Acrylic, oil, and charcoal on canvas, 82 1/16 × 78 1/8 (208.4 × 198.4) Promised gift of Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner P.2011.472

Charline von Heyl, Boogey, 2004. Acrylic, oil, and charcoal on canvas, 82 1/16 × 78 1/8 (208.4 × 198.4)
Promised gift of Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner P.2011.472

Westreich Wagner and Wagner began collecting art in the 1980s and continue to collect today. They have consistently focused their attention on emerging artists, acquiring works soon after they were made, often straight out of the artists’ studios. Many of these artists were relatively unknown at the time, but have since become some of the most heralded figures of their generation—notably Robert Gober, Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, and Christopher Wool. The couple has also pursued a specific interest in photography, building deep holdings of the work of landmark figures such as Lee Friedlander and Robert Adams while also acquiring photographs by a diverse range of artists, including Liz Deschenes, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Annette Kelm, and Josephine Pryde. Continuously motivated by the learning challenges posed by new expressions and ideas, the two have examined the world around them through the eyes of the artists whose work they follow and acquire; their collection is a unique, personal reflection on the “contemporary moment” as it has evolved over the last several decades.

Liz Deschenes, Green Screen #7, 2001. Chromogenic print: sheet, 49 9/16 × 66 (125.9 × 167.6) Promised gift of Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner P.2014.12

Liz Deschenes, Green Screen #7, 2001. Chromogenic print: sheet, 49 9/16 × 66 (125.9 × 167.6)
Promised gift of Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner P.2014.12

The gift to the Whitney encompasses nearly five hundred and fifty works, representing a cross section of mediums, by more than seventy-five artists and collectives. In some cases works are by artists who will enter the collection for the first time and in others they add depth to our holdings of artists we have championed. The Pompidou is receiving more than three hundred works by some forty European artists. While the collection is divided between the two institutions, with works by American artists going to the Whitney and by non-American artists going to the Pompidou, the exhibitions draw from both gifts aiming to reveal the international dialogue intrinsic to contemporary art. Continue reading