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.

Alan Michelson: Wolf Nation To Open At The Whitney Museum of American Art On October 25

Alan Michelson: Wolf Nation presents four works in video, sound, print, and augmented reality that invoke place from an Indigenous perspective. The artist—who is Kanyen’keha:ka (Mohawk), a member of one of the six nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy—traverses local landscapes and temporalities in his art, treating geographical sites as archives and exploring territory typically bypassed in American history and largely absent from American memory. Wolf Nation, organized by Chrissie Iles, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Curator, with Clémence White, curatorial assistant, will be on view in the Museum’s fifth floor Kaufman and Goergen Galleries and in the lobby from October 25, 2019 through January 12, 2020.

Alan Michelson with Steven Fragale, Town Destroyer, 2019

Scott Rothkopf, Senior Deputy Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, remarked, “Alan Michelson’s influential practice has critically and poetically foregrounded Indigenous perspectives to reorient how all of us can see history and place. The Whitney is thrilled to present this beautiful and haunting show, and we remain committed to expanding our work with Indigenous artists in both our collection and exhibition and public programs.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is Wolf Nation (2018), an immersive video installation recently acquired for the Whitney’s permanent collection. Originally commissioned by Storm King Art Center, Wolf Nation transforms webcam footage of red wolves, a critically endangered indigenous species, into a poignant meditation on displacement. The work links their possible eradication with that of their namesake, the Wolf Tribe of the Lenape, also known as the Munsees, whose homelands encompassed present southern New York and northern New Jersey. Michelson translates the format and color of wampum belts—horizontal purple and white beadwork sashes used in Indigenous diplomacy whose symbolic designs encoded solemn messages—into panoramic video and sound. Wolf Nation is both an evocative affirmation of solidarity across species and a stark appeal to the forces responsible for their persecution.

Michelson commented, “American landscape is complicated when you’re Indigenous. For example, this year is the 240th anniversary of the Sullivan-Clinton Expedition, George Washington’s brutal invasion and destruction of Iroquoia, the Haudenosaunee homelands which now comprise most of New York state. Sixty of our towns, and hundreds of our houses, farms, crops, orchards, and livestock were burned and pillaged in a scorched-earth campaign that forced our people from their lands as homeless refugees. This is only one of the tragic but unacknowledged legacies that underpin our contemporary landscape. That history needs to be confronted.”

Also included in the exhibition is Shattemuc (2009), a video installation made for the Henry Hudson Quadricentennial, which retraces part of Hudson’s historic voyage on the river once known as “Shattemuc” to the region’s Indigenous inhabitants. Captured at night in the searchlight beam of a moving boat, the illuminated shoreline progresses from wooded palisade to industrial quarry, riverside town, power plant, and marina, encapsulating the development that followed upon Hudson’s journey. In Shattemuc, as throughout his oeuvre, Michelson appropriates and redirects colonial technologies of mapping and surveillance as well as landscape painting, the moving panorama of the nineteenth century, and other forms.

The soundtracks for Wolf Nation and Shattemuc are composed by White Mountain Apache composer and musician Laura Ortman, whose work was included in the 2019 Whitney Biennial.

Premiering are two new augmented reality works that Michelson produced with artist Steven Fragale, accessed through an interactive app that visitors are invited to download on their devices. Town Destroyer (2019) is an eighteen-foot-long wallpaper mural based on the interior of the mansion at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s historic estate in Virginia, and executed in the style of scenic wallpapers of the period. Inserted into the scene is a bust of Washington that, when viewed through the app, becomes three-dimensional on the screen. Moving images on the virtual bust’s surface and spatial audio tell the story of the brutal Sullivan-Clinton Campaign of 1779, the Washington-ordered invasion and destruction of Iroquoia, the Haudenosaunee homelands that now constitute the bulk of present New York state.

Sapponckanikan (Tobacco Field), 2019, created for the Museum’s lobby, responds to the history of the Whitney’s neighborhood, formerly a Lenape village and tobacco field of the same name. When activated by the visitor through an app downloaded to their phone, a large circle of tobacco plants of the variety used ceremonially across Turtle Island (North America) will appear on the phone screen. Rustling gently in a virtual wind, the plants, based on those in the artist’s sister’s garden at Six Nations Reserve, create a duality of time and place and speak to Indigenous survivance—active presence and resistance—over four difficult centuries.

Alan Michelson (Mohawk, b. 1953) is an internationally recognized New York-based artist, curator, writer, lecturer, and member of one of the six nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy. For over thirty years, working across a diverse range of media and combining meticulous research with a site-based practice grounded in local context, he has critically and poetically uncovered troubling colonial legacies and challenged national myths.

Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, Michelson’s four-channel video installation, was recently featured in the 2019 Venice Biennale, and has also been shown in the eighteenth Sydney Biennale and the fifth Moscow Biennale. His work is in the permanent collections of the Whitney, National Gallery of Canada, and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. His practice includes public art, and Mantle (2018), his permanent public monument honoring Virginia’s Indian nations installed at the capitol in Richmond, Virginia, was recognized in the prestigious 2019 Public Art Network Year in Review. The feature article “In the Studio: Alan Michelson” appeared in the December 2018 issue of Art in America. Michelson is co-founder and co-curator, in conjunction with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School, of the groundbreaking Indigenous New York series.

Iles noted, “For Alan Michelson, the moving image operates as a form of witnessing. Wolf Nation resurfaces invisible histories of place—the forest, the river, the field, and the land—and translates them into visual imagery that asserts the Indigenous voice. Distilled from diverse sources, each work is horizontal or circular in form, echoing Indigenous concepts of time and space—multi-perspectival and cyclical, rather than monocular and linear. By creating works that evoke place and historical memory, Michelson allows his viewers to see Indigeneity—and Native cultures—as visceral, and lived.”

David Wojnarowicz Retrospective At The Whitney Explores The Enduring Resonance Of An Artist Who Merged The Personal And The Political

This summer, the most complete presentation to date of the work of artist, writer, and activist David Wojnarowicz will be on view in a full-scale retrospective organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art. David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night is the first major re-evaluation since 1999 of one of the most fervent and essential voices of his generation.

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David Wojnarowicz with Tom Warren, Self-Portrait of David Wojnarowicz, 1983–84. Acrylic and collaged paper on gelatin silver print, 60 × 40 in. (152.4 × 101.6 cm). Collection of Brooke Garber Neidich and Daniel Neidich, Photograph by Ron Amstutz. (The exhibition is organized by David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of the Collection, and David Kiehl, Curator Emeritus, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.)

Opening at the Whitney on July 13 and running through September 30, David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night features more than a hundred works by the artist and is organized by two Whitney curators, David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of the Collection, and David Kiehl, Curator Emeritus. The exhibition, which will be installed in the Museum’s fifth floor Neil Bluhm Family Galleries through September 30, draws upon the scholarly resources of the Fales Library and Special Collections (NYU), the repository of Wojnarowicz’s archive, and is also built on the foundation of the Whitney’s extensive holdings of Wojnarowicz’s work, including thirty works from the Museum’s collection. It will travel to the Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid, in May 2019, and to Mudam Luxembourg – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg City, in November 2019.

Scott Rothkopf, Deputy Director for Programs and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, remarked, “Since his death more than twenty-five years ago, David Wojnarowicz has become an almost mythic figure, haunting, inspiring, and calling to arms subsequent generations through his inseparable artistic and political examples. This retrospective will enable so many to confront for the first time, or anew, the groundbreaking multidisciplinary body of work on which his legacy actually stands.”

Beginning in the late 1970s, David Wojnarowicz (1954–1992) created a body of work that spanned photography, painting, music, film, sculpture, writing, performance, and activism. Joining a lineage of iconoclasts, Wojnarowicz (pronounced Voyna-ROW-vich) saw the outsider as his true subject. His mature period began with a series of photographs and collages that honored—and placed himself among—consummate countercultural figures like Arthur Rimbaud, William Burroughs, and Jean Genet. Even as he became well-known in the East Village art scene for his mythological paintings, Wojnarowicz remained committed to writing personal essays. Queer and HIV-positive, Wojnarowicz became an impassioned advocate for people with AIDS at a time when an inconceivable number of friends, lovers, and strangers—disproportionately gay men—were dying from the disease and from government inaction.

After hitchhiking across the U.S. and living for several months in San Francisco, and then in Paris, David Wojnarowicz settled in New York in 1978 and soon after began to exhibit his work in East Village galleries. Largely self-taught, Wojnarowicz came to prominence in New York in the 1980s, a period marked by great creative energy and profound cultural changes. Intersecting movements—graffiti, new and no wave music, conceptual photography, performance, neo-expressionist painting—made New York a laboratory for innovation. Unlike many artists, Wojnarowicz refused a signature style, adopting a wide variety of techniques with an attitude of radical possibility. Distrustful of inherited structures, a feeling amplified by the resurgence of conservative politics, Wojnarowicz varied his repertoire to better infiltrate the culture.

His essay for the catalog accompanying the exhibition Witnesses: Against Our Vanishing (curated by Nan Goldin at Artists Space in 1989–90) came under fire for its vitriolic attack on politicians and leaders who were preventing AIDS treatment and awareness. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) threatened to defund the exhibition, and Wojnarowicz fought against this and for the first amendment rights of artists. Continue reading

The Whitney To Present Solo Exhibitions By Two Emerging Artists

Two New Exhibitions By Emerging Artists Will Be Presented By The Whitney This Summer.

Following close on the heels of the Biennial, The Whitney’s summer season builds on the strong energy of our emerging artists program,” remarked Scott Rothkopf, Deputy Director for Programs and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator. “Both born in 1990, Bunny Rogers and Willa Nasatir offer a pair of distinct but complementary visions. Each explores mysterious, often dark, narratives within stagey, lapidary tableaus, Rogers through sculpture and video, Nasatir in photography.

Bunny Rogers (b. 1990), Clone State Bookcase, 2014

Bunny Rogers (b. 1990), Clone State Bookcase, 2014 (detail). Maple wood, metal, limited-edition Elliott Smith plush dolls, “Ferdinand the Bull” third-place mourning ribbons, and casters, 97 × 121.5 × 24 in. (246 × 309 × 61 cm). Courtesy the artist and Société. Photograph by Uli Holz

BUNNY ROGERS

For her first solo museum exhibition, Rogers will create a new body of work to be installed in the John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation Gallery on the Museum’s first floor, which is free and open to the public. The exhibition goes on view on July 7.

In her work, Bunny Rogers (b. 1990, Houston, TX) draws from a personal cosmology to explore shared experiences of loss, alienation, and a search for belonging. Her layered installations, videos, and sculptures begin with wide-ranging references, from young-adult fiction and early 2000s cartoons, like Clone High, to autobiographical events and spectacles of mass violence, such as the 1999 Columbine High School shooting. Rogers’s techniques are as idiosyncratic as her subject matter. She borrows from theater costuming, design, and industrial furniture manufacturing, and often crafts her work by hand. This hybrid approach gives Rogers’s objects and spaces a distinct texture; they read simultaneously as slick and intimate, highly constructed, but also sincere.

Elisabeth Sherman, an assistant curator at the Whitney, who is co-curating the exhibition with curatorial assistant Margaret Kross, noted: “Rogers’s work reveals how certain emotions and traits that we consider to be completely opposite, like empathy and hate, sincerity and deceit, really exist in shades of grey. To paraphrase Rogers’s own words, the viewer may find that both extremes sit within themselves.

Rogers has had solo exhibitions at Greenspon Gallery, New York; Foundation de 11 Lijnen, Oudenburg, BE; Société, Berlin; and Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris. An artist book, Flowers for Orgonon, will be published in 2017. Continue reading

Art News: Whitney Announces 2017 Biennial Film Program

A Broad Range Of Moving Image Artists To Be Shown In The 2017 Biennial’s Film Program

A series of film screenings and conversations will be presented as part of the 2017 Whitney Biennial, opening at the Whitney Museum of American Art on March 17. The series takes place over ten consecutive weekends, from March 17 through May 21, 2017, in the Susan and John Hess Family Theater on the Museum’s third floor. Each Sunday, the 3 pm screening will be followed by a conversation with the filmmakers, joined by writers, curators, and scholars.

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Leslie Thornton (b. 1951) and James Richards (b. 1983), still from Crossing, 2016. High-definition video, color, sound; 19:10 min. Courtesy the artists

Film program co-curator and Biennial advisor Aily Nash notes: “At once radical and quiet, global and intimate, the works presented in the 2017 Whitney Biennial film program continue to reflect on the urgent themes seen in the exhibition. These artists are some of the most exciting voices working in moving image today. They engage the medium with formal rigor and innovation while exploring the subjective and affective experiences of the contemporary political and social moment. The broad range of artists spans generations and approaches to the moving image including documentary practice, experimental film, narrative cinema, and video installation.”

Featured artists are Basma Alsharif, Eric Baudelaire, Robert Beavers, Mary Helena Clark, Kevin Jerome Everson, Sky Hopinka, Dani Leventhal, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Cauleen Smith, Leslie Thornton and James Richards, Leilah Weinraub, and James N. Kienitz Wilkins. See a complete schedule at whitney.org.

The formation of self and the individual’s place in a turbulent society are among the key themes reflected in the work of the artists selected for the 2017 Whitney Biennial. The exhibition includes sixty-three participants, ranging from emerging to well-established individuals and collectives working in painting, sculpture, drawing, installation, film and video, photography, activism, performance, music, and video game design.16_biennial_gif_web_2340px_fullstart_2340

With a history of exhibiting the most promising and influential artists and provoking debate, the Whitney Biennial—the Museum’s signature exhibition—is the longest running survey 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.

The 2017 Whitney Biennial will be accompanied by an exhibition catalogue, designed by Olga Casellas Badillo of San Juan–based Tiguere Corp., which includes essays by the curators as well as Biennial advisors Negar Azimi and Gean Moreno, a conversation between the curators and Scott Rothkopf, and a roundtable with filmmakers moderated by Aily Nash. The book will also feature individual entries on each of the sixty-three participants in the exhibition along with reproductions of their work. It will be published by the Whitney Museum of American Art and distributed by Yale University Press.The Whitney Logo

The 2017 Whitney Biennial is co-curated by Christopher Y. Lew and Mia Locks Continue reading

The Whitney To Present Mid-Career Survey Of The Work Of Laura Owens

In November 2017, the Whitney Museum of American Art will open the most comprehensive survey to-date of the work of Los Angeles–based painter Laura Owens (b. 1970), one of the foremost artists of her generation. Organized by Scott Rothkopf, the Whitney’s Deputy Director for Programs and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, in close collaboration with the artist, this exhibition will be the first mid-career survey in the Whitney’s new downtown home. It will run from mid-November 2017 through early February 2018. Major support is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation.

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Laura Owens, Untitled, 2014. Ink, silkscreen ink, vinyl paint, acrylic, oil, pastel, paper, wood, solvent transfers, stickers, handmade paper, thread, board, and glue on linen and polyester, five parts: 138 1/8 × 106 ½ x 2 5/8 in. (350.8 × 270.5 × 6.7 cm) overall. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from Jonathan Sobel 2014.281a-e. © Laura Owens

For more than twenty years, Laura Owens has pioneered an innovative—and at times controversial—approach to painting that challenges traditional assumptions about the nature of figuration and abstraction, the relationships among avant-garde art, craft, and pop culture, and the interplay between painting and contemporary technologies. Owens emerged on the Los Angeles art scene shortly after completing her studies at the California Institute of the Arts in 1994, at a time when painting was viewed with suspicion by the academic establishment and many of her peers favored more conceptual approaches to art-making. Owens bucked this prevailing trend with a series of large-scale canvases marked by their grand ambition on the one hand, and their incorporation of humbler, low-key marks and subjects on the other, merging abstraction with goofy personal allusions, as well as materials that seemed more the province of craft stores than the fine arts. References to cartooning, doodling, and a high-pitch, sometimes pastel palette served as further irritants to ingrained painterly pieties.

Over the ensuing decade Owens established herself as a key voice pushing painting towards a new conception of site-specificity grounded in the social, poetic, and architectural conditions of a particular place. Early on, she demonstrated a keen interest in how paintings function in a given room and used trompe-l’oeil techniques to extend the plane of a wall or floor directly into the illusionistic space of her pictures. These canvases often featured paintings within paintings and sometimes paintings within those, creating an effect of Russian nesting dolls that confused the boundaries of actual and pictorial space, as well as reality and representation. Owens’s approach offered a highly original conception of how a portable painting might allude to its initial setting (and its siblings in a series) while nevertheless remaining distinct from it, unlike the in situ wall paintings of previous generations. These works demonstrate a self-conscious and reflexive relationship to the physical world they occupy, while opening, almost paradoxically, onto a lush space of reverie, conjecture, and play.

Owens’s interest in American folk art, historical tapestries, and other vernacular forms led her to fill her canvases with imagery and materials, such as felt appliqué and needlework, that were anathema to more serious discourses on painting and to some of her critical commentators. Yet this non-hierarchical and omnivorous approach to source material and technique allowed her to push painting forward and to engage broader social issues in surprising ways. In the aftermath of the United States’s call to war following the events of 9/11, Owens turned to almost childlike depictions of nineteenth-century American soldiers and medieval images of knights to address our increasingly bellicose national conversation. Her longstanding preoccupation with supposedly “feminine” colors and motifs from charming animals to infantile gestures, as well as her allusions to romantic love and motherhood (including the incorporation within her work of her own children’s drawings and stories) has led to a disruptive rethinking of feminism in art.

Over the past five years, Owens has charted a dramatic transformation in her work, marshaling all of her previous interests and talents within large-scale paintings that make virtuosic use of silkscreen, computer manipulation, digital printing, and material exploration. Wild blown-up brushstrokes push off finely printed appropriations from newspapers and other media sources; actual wheels or mechanical devices like clock hands spin across a painting’s surface; images shuttle between the physical and virtual worlds to arrive back on canvas magically transfigured by their journey. In a 2015 Berlin exhibition, Owens precisely positioned a group of five, large, freestanding paintings in a staggered row so that from a specific vantage the writing on their surfaces resolved into a unified image in the eye. The following year she created an installation at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco where paintings were embedded within walls covered in custom-printed wallpaper. Visitors were encouraged to interact with the installation by sending text messages to various numbers that triggered elliptical spoken replies broadcast by hidden speakers. Such bold experimentation with painting, sculpture, reference, and process have made Owens an important exemplar for younger generations of artists, many of whom cite her work as a key touchstone. Furthermore, she is a co-founder and programmer of 356 S. Mission Rd., a collaborative art gallery, bookstore, and event space that hosts regular exhibitions, readings, and screenings and has become a crucial gathering place and beacon for the Los Angeles art community and beyond. Continue reading

DAVID BRESLIN TO JOIN THE WHITNEY’S CURATORIAL DEPARTMENT

The Whitney Museum of American Art is pleased to announce that David Breslin is joining the Museum’s staff as Richard DeMartini Family Curator and Director of the Collection. Currently the John R. Eckel, Jr. Chief Curator of the Menil Drawing Institute in Houston, Breslin will begin working at the Whitney in October.

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David Breslin To Join The Whitney’s Curatorial Department

Scott Rothkopf, Deputy Director for Programs and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, noted: “David is that rare and remarkable combination of a scholarly curator and sensitive champion of living artists. In his leadership position at the Whitney, he will help steward our collection and shape its future by guiding acquisition strategy, along with the display and publication of our holdings. We are delighted that David will further the Museum’s mission as a forum for artists and the most innovative ideas around twentieth- and twenty-first-century American art.”

At the Menil Drawing Institute, Breslin created an ambitious program of exhibitions and public and scholarly events and helped to shape the design of the Institute’s stand-alone facility set to open next year. At the Menil, Breslin curated The Precarious (2015–2016), a focused look at works in the collection indebted to the collage tradition, and Harold Ancart: There Is No There There (2016). He also oversaw work on the catalogue raisonné of the drawings of Jasper Johns set to be published in 2017 and grew the collection with acquisitions of works by artists including, among others, Trisha Brown, John Cage, Lee Mullican, Amy Sillman, Nancy Spero, Danh Vo, and Jack Whitten. Breslin currently serves as co-curator with Whitney curator David Kiehl of David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night, an authoritative retrospective of the artist to be presented at the Whitney in 2018. Breslin and Kiehl are co-editing the accompanying catalog.

I’m thrilled to be joining the Whitney at such an exciting and important time, shortly after the first anniversary of the Museum’s move downtown,” said Breslin. “It is an honor to be able to work with this dynamic and growing collection and help convey the diverse histories and possibilities of American art. I look forward to working with the Whitney’s exceptional staff—and thoughtful audiences—to create exhibitions and programs that challenge conceptions, inform interpretations, and, hopefully, provide some joy.”

Prior to joining the Menil Collection, 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. As associate director, Breslin partnered with international museum and academic colleagues to create a conference, colloquium, and symposium program for the museum; 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 2014, The Clark presented Breslin’s exhibition Raw Color: The Circles of David Smith. He also co-curated Make It New: Abstract Painting from the National Gallery of Art, 1950–1975. Most recently, Breslin worked on the Ellsworth Kelly-curated exhibition Monet | Kelly (seen at the Clark in 2015). In addition to curating exhibitions on El Anatsui and Juan Muñoz, among others, Breslin has edited numerous exhibition catalogues and authored essays on a range of artists including Paul Thek, Cady Noland, Valentin Carron, and Pablo Picasso.

Breslin earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Amherst College, a master’s in art history from Williams College, and a Ph.D. in the history of art and architecture from Harvard University. His doctoral dissertation, I WANT TO GO TO THE FUTURE: Jenny Holzer and the End of a Century, was informed by his experience working in Holzer’s studio, collaborating with the artist on many museum and gallery exhibitions—including Holzer’s 2009 exhibition at The Whitney—and organizing a diverse range of public projects. He was appointed to serve as an adviser in contemporary art initiatives at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA, while pursuing his doctorate.

The Whitney Museum of American Art is located at 99 Gansevoort Street between Washington and West Streets, New York City. Museum hours are: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday from 10:30 am to 6 pm; Friday and Saturday from 10:30 am to 10 pm. Closed Tuesday. Adults: $22 in advance via whitney.org; $25 day of visit. Full-time students and visitors 65 & over: $17 in advance via whitney.org; $18 day of visit. Visitors 18 years & under and Whitney members: FREE. Admission is pay-what-you-wish on Fridays, 7–10 pm. For general information, please call (212) 570-3600 or visit whitney.org.