Salman Toor’s first solo museum exhibition will be presented by the Whitney Museum of American Art from March 20 to July 5, 2020. Primarily making intimate oil-on-panel works, Toor expands the tradition of figurative painting by melding sketch-like immediacy with disarming detail to create affecting views of young, queer Brown men living between New York City and South Asia. Salman Toor: How Will I Know is part of the Whitney’s emerging artists program, which most recently included solo shows by Kevin Beasley and Eckhaus Latta, and will be on view in the first-floor John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation Gallery, which is accessible to the public free-of-charge. This exhibition is organized by Christopher Y. Lew, Nancy and Fred Poses Curator, and Ambika Trasi, curatorial assistant.
“Over the past few years the field of figurative painting has been reimagined once again, this time by artists frankly depicting lives and cultures that were all too often overlooked,” said Scott Rothkopf, Senior Deputy Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator. “Salman Toor is one of the most exciting of these young talents, conjuring beautiful stories across his canvases with a sensitive and elegant touch.”
Considering the figures he paints to be imaginary versions of himself and his friends, Toor portrays his subjects with empathy to counter the judgments he feels are often imposed on them by the outside world. Allusions to art history—notably classical European and modern Indian painting—feature throughout the artist’s work, endowing his narratives, which are drawn from experience, with elements of fantasy. Recurring color palettes, notably muted greens used to evoke a nocturnal atmosphere, heighten the emotion and drama of Toor’s compositions. In these dreamy vignettes, characters dance in cramped apartments, binge-watch period dramas, play with puppies, and style their friends’ hair. Meanwhile, another group of works, more somber in tone, highlights moments of nostalgia and alienation. One painting depicts a morose family dinner; in a series of works, forlorn men stand with their personal belongings on display for the scrutiny of immigration officers. Rich in personal detail and situated within a queer diasporic community, Toor’s paintings evocatively consider how vulnerability appears in public and private life.
Mutualities, the multidisciplinary artist Cauleen Smith’s first solo show in New York, will open at the Whitney Museum of American Art on February 17. The exhibition includes two films, Sojourner (2018) and Pilgrim (2017), shown in two installation environments newly created for the Whitney, along with a group of new drawings, collectively titled Firespitters (2020).
Scott Rothkopf, Senior Deputy Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, remarked, “We’re delighted to welcome Cauleen Smith back to the Whitney. With their exquisite atmosphere and construction, Sojourner and Pilgrim offer lyrical views of important figures and sites in Black history, and also look toward a shared future. The show builds a beautiful bridge between the other pillars of our spring exhibition program, pointing to the political concerns of Vida Americana and the spiritual uplift of Agnes Pelton.”
Smith (b. 1967)—whose banners were prominently featured at the Museum in the 2017 Whitney Biennial—draws on poetry, science fiction, non-Western cosmologies, and experimental film to create works that reflect on memory and Afro-diasporic histories.
Cauleen Smith is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work draws upon Black radical thought, structural film, poetry, and science fiction. Born in Riverside, California in 1967, she grew up in Sacramento, and earned a B.A. in Cinema from San Francisco State University and an MFA at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Theater Film and Television. At UCLA, she studied with the L.A. Rebellion filmmakers, a group of graduate students who started a Black Cinema movement at the university in the mid-1960s. She has made over 40 films, and her first feature length film, Drylongso (1998), premiered at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival before circulating with acclaim to other film festivals. She has had exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago, ICA Philadelphia, MASS MoCA, the Studio Museum of Harlem, the New Museum, New York, the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, and the Kitchen, New York, and was featured in the 2017 Whitney Biennial. She is the recipient of numerous awards and residencies including the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2007), the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture, Artist Award (2012), the Washington Park Arts Incubator, Arts and Public Life Residency (2013), and the Rauschenberg Residency (2015). She has taught at various universities over the span of the last two decades, and is a Faculty member of Cal Arts School of Art in Los Angeles.
Chrissie Iles, the Whitney’s Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Curator, who has organized the show with Clémence White, senior curatorial assistant, commented, “We are proud to bring together Cauleen Smith’s films, installations, and drawings in an exhibition that articulates an ethics of care, engagement, and generosity. Each element of the show is experienced through another—books written and chosen by poets invited by the artist appear in delicate gouaches; a film tracing a pilgrimage to spiritual sites is bathed in the colored light of the installation surrounding it. The Museum’s recognition of Smith’s long and deeply engaged practice is underlined by our recent acquisition of both films, Sojourner and Pilgrim, which join her banners already in the Whitney’s collection.”
Unfolding across several important sites in Black spiritual and cultural history, the two films in the exhibition weave together writings by women from different eras, including Shaker visionary Rebecca Cox Jackson, abolitionist Sojourner Truth, the Black feminist Combahee River Collective of the 1970s, and experimental-jazz composer and spiritual leader Alice Coltrane, whose music also forms the soundtrack for both films. This gathering of voices enacts a shared Black female subjectivity, the collective strength of which is expressed in Smith’s poetic use of the camera and light as improvisational instruments to reveal how invention, creativity, and generosity can be resources for transformation and regeneration. By placing the title of this exhibition in the plural, Smith draws a connection between the two films while pointing to the idea that what is held in common is never singular.
In Sojourner, a group of women walk in procession through sites including Dockweiler State Beach and Watts Towers in Los Angeles. The women carry translucent orange banners, each emblazoned with part of a text by the jazz composer and spiritual leader Alice Coltrane (1937–2007). Watts Towers, a cluster of seventeen sculptural spires, served as a symbol of hope and regeneration after surviving the 1965 Watts Rebellion unscathed. Smith locates a similar spirit in assemblage artist Noah Purifoy’s Outdoor Desert Art Museum in Joshua Tree, California. The women end their procession there, listening to readings of the Black feminist Combahee River Collective, Sojourner Truth (1797–1833), and Alice Coltrane. Their collective voices, echoed in contemporary footage of the Chicago-based activist coalition R3 (Resist. Reimagine. Rebuild.), fuse spirituality and activism into a potent articulation of self-realization and resistance. The actions unfold not only within different sites within the film itself, but in an immersive kaleidoscopic environment of light and seating in the Museum that interconnects the film with a more expansive sense of place and collective presence.
Pilgrim traces the artist’s pilgrimage to three sites: Alice Coltrane’s Turiyasangitananda Vedantic Center in Agoura, California; Watts Towers in Los Angeles; and the Black spiritual activist Rebecca Cox Jackson’s (1795–1871) Watervliet Shaker community in upstate New York. Smith vividly evokes the creative atmosphere of each place, allowing the camera to slowly explore the ashram’s interior and Coltrane’s musical instruments, and using the soft grain and subtle color of Super 8 film to infuse the footage of Watts Towers and the flowers in the Shaker garden with an emotional intimacy. Jackson’s advocacy of racial and gender equality, her fight against the patriarchy of organized religion, and her awareness of the African roots of her faith resonate with Coltrane’s own hybrid, transnational spiritual and musical language. Both women’s challenges to accepted authority are, like the enduring independent spirit of Watts Towers, grounded in a sense of place, community, and generosity that are also hallmarks of Smith’s own transformative work.
The screenings of Smith’s films in High Line Art’s presentation of Signals from Here, organized by Melanie Kress, High Line Art Associate Curator, will take place from dusk until the park closes, on the High Line at 14th Street. The program includes Three Songs About Liberation (2017), Crow Requiem (2015), Lessons in Semaphore (2015), H-E-L-L-O (2014), and Songs for Earth and Folk (2013).
Screening and Conversation with Cauleen Smith and Michael Gillespie Friday, March 27, 6:30 pm
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Whitney will present a rare screening of Passing Through (1977, 105 min) by LA Rebellion filmmaker Larry Clark, preceded by one of Cauleen Smith’s films. Following the screening, Smith will be in conversation with film scholar Michael Boyce Gillespie, Associate Professor of Film in the Department of Media and Communication Arts and the Black Studies Program at the City College of New York, City University of New York.
Tickets required. ($10 adults; $8 members, students, seniors, and visitors with a disability).
Cauleen Smith: Mutualities is part of the Whitney’s emerging artists program, sponsored by Nordstrom. Generous support is provided by The Rosenkranz Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Artists Council.
With approximately 200 works by sixty U.S. and Mexican artists, Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925–1945 will reveal the profound impact of Mexico’s three leading muralists—José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Diego Rivera—on the style, subject matter, and ideology of art in the United States made between 1925 and 1945.
Organized by curator Barbara Haskell, with Marcela Guerrero, assistant curator; Sarah Humphreville, senior curatorial assistant; and Alana Hernandez, former curatorial project assistant, Vida Americana will be on view at the Whitney from February 17 through May 17. During a special event held today in the Museum’s lobby, Museum visitors were greeted with a surprise celebration at noon, complete with free ticket giveaways and an Instagram-worthy photo opportunity.
At the event, Haskell highlighted the murals and easel paintings that will be on loan from Mexico, Japan, Argentina, and the United Kingdom for the exhibition. These include works that are rarely exhibited in the United States, including Rivera’s 1932 studies for his destroyed and infamous Rockefeller Center mural, Man at the Crossroads, on loan from the Museo Anahuacalli in Mexico City; María Izquierdo’s My Nieces (1940) and Siqueiros’s Proletarian Mother (1929), on loan from the Museo Nacional de Arte; and two paintings by Japanese-born artist Eitarō Ishigaki, on loan from Japan’s Museum of Modern Art in Wakayama.
Guerrero then discussed the Museum’s ongoing initiative to improve access for Spanish-speaking visitors.
For Vida Americana, a number of resources will be available in both English and Spanish, including all exhibition texts, the mobile guide, exhibition tours, and a Family Guide that will feature texts and in-gallery activities. The guide is available free of charge to all families who visit the Whitney as well as to elementary school-aged students who visit the Museum. The Museum also announced programs being organized by its education department on the occasion of the exhibition, including a full-day symposium featuring artists, curators, educators, and scholars presenting new perspectives on the role of Mexican Muralism in the United States. Other programming highlights include Tours for Immigrant Families, Teen Night, and a Community Partnership Mural Project with The Door and artist Sophia Dawson. Additional details and the full lineup of programs can be viewed below.
By presenting the art of the Mexican muralists alongside that of their American contemporaries, Vida Americana reveals the influence of Mexican art, particularly on those looking for inspiration and models beyond European modernism and the School of Paris, during the interwar period. Works by both well-known and underrecognized American artists will be exhibited, including those by Thomas Hart Benton, Elizabeth Catlett, Aaron Douglas, Marion Greenwood, William Gropper, Philip Guston, Eitarō Ishigaki, Jacob Lawrence, Harold Lehman, Fletcher Martin, Jackson Pollock, Ben Shahn, Thelma Johnson Streat, Charles White, and Hale Woodruff. In addition to Orozco, Rivera, and Siqueiros, other key Mexican artists included in the exhibition include Miguel Covarrubias, María Izquierdo, Frida Kahlo, Mardonio Magaña, Alfredo Ramos Martínez, and Rufino Tamayo. Tickets for Vida Americana are now available at whitney.org.
COMMUNITY AND ACCESS PROGRAMS
Tours for Immigrant Families, Feb 1, March 7, April 4, May 2, 2020
Bring your family to the Museum for a free tour and fun activities! We welcome immigrant families who speak any language and level of English. Spanish-speaking staff will be on the tour and two-trip MetroCards will be provided.
Immigrant Justice Night, April 29, 2020, 6–8 pm
Jointly organized with community partners, the Whitney will host its third Immigrant Justice Night. Join the museum for an evening of resource-sharing and artmaking dedicated to immigrant and undocumented communities. Youth, families, teachers, and community members are invited to connect with NYC immigrant justice organizations, participate in a “know your rights” training and explore Vida Americana. Spanish and English language guided tours of the exhibition will be offered throughout the evening.
From January 15 to February 17, 2020, the Whitney’s eighth floor gallery will be the site of fruits, vegetables; fruit and vegetable salad. The exhibition is comprised of an untitled work by Darren Bader from the Whitney’s permanent collection—acquired in 2015 and never before presented at the Museum—featuring a selection of fruits and vegetables presented as sculptures on pedestals. Through this organizing principle, Bader calls attention to the formal properties of the objects’ colors, shapes, lines, and textures.
At scheduled times throughout the week—Mondays, Wednesdays, and Sundays from 3–6 pm, and Fridays from 7:30–10 pm—museum staff will remove the ripened fruits and vegetables from the pedestals. Rather than disposing of the produce, Bader has instructed that a fruit and vegetable salad should be created. While the gallery sits empty, the washing, slicing, dicing, and chopping of the produce in the Museum’s Studio Cafe kitchen will be captured on video and projected in the gallery for visitors to observe. The fruit and vegetable salad will then be served in the gallery and visitors will be invited to eat it. Museum staff will refresh the artwork with a new selection of produce, and the process will repeat.
Scott Rothkopf, Senior Deputy Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, remarked, “Rigorous, funny, and strangely uncanny, Bader’s work tests not only what an artwork can be but also what a museum can collect and how we display it. We’re thrilled to show this recent acquisition for the first time, though we recognize it might not taste as good as it looks.“
In fruits, vegetables; fruit and vegetable salad, Bader creates a visual and participatory experience from everyday objects that continues the artist’s ongoing examination of readymade art, as well as his investigation of art as concept, language, and commodity.
“fruits, vegetables; fruit and vegetable salad is an opportunity to be nimble in showcasing a work from the Whitney’s collection, and to collaborate with an artist the Museum first showed in the 2014 Biennial. This work’s absurdist yet sincere premise is particularly apropos in our current climate, and I hope viewers will engage through close looking, questioning, and salad-consumption,” said Christie Mitchell, senior curatorial assistant.
Darren Bader (b. 1978, Bridgeport, CT) lives and works in New York. Solo shows of his work held in institutions include (@mined_oud), Madre, Naples, (2017-2018); Meaning and Difference, The Power Station, Dallas (2017); Reading Writing Arithmetic, Radio Athènes–Athens (2015); Where Is a Bicycle’s Vagina (and Other Inquiries) or Around the Samovar, 1857, Oslo (2012); Images, MoMA-PS1, New York (2012). Awarded the Calder Prize in 2013, Bader has taken part in numerous group exhibitions and biennials including the following: 13éme Biennale de Lyon. La vie moderne, Lyon (2015); Under the Clouds: From Paranoia to the Digital Sublime, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto (2015); 2014 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2014); Antigrazioso, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2013); Something About a Tree, FLAG Foundation, New York (2013); Empire State, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome (2013); Oh, you mean cellophane and all that crap, The Calder Foundation, New York (2012); Greater New York, MoMA-PS1, New York (2010); To Illustrate and Multiply: An Open Book, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2008).
This exhibition is organized by Christie Mitchell, senior curatorial assistant.
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, Saturday, and Sunday from 10:30 am to 6 pm; Friday from 10:30 am to 10 pm. Closed Tuesday except in July and August. Adults: $25. Full-time students, visitors 65 & over, and visitors with disabilities: $18. 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.
Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist is the first solo exhibition devoted to Pelton (1881–1961), a pioneer of American abstraction, in twenty-five years. Consisting of forty-five luminous canvases made between 1917 and 1961, the exhibition is a rare opportunity to experience Pelton’s profoundly spiritual body of work and to confirm her place in art history. Organized by the Phoenix Art Museum, it opens at the Whitney Museum of American Art on March 13 and runs through June 21, 2020.
“In complicated and turbulent times like these, Pelton’s paintings touch us through their vivid color and dreamy intimacy,” said Scott Rothkopf, Senior Deputy Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator. “As with our recent focused surveys of Archibald Motley and Grant Wood, this exhibition highlights our commitment to rethink and rediscover historical figures, thereby providing a more complex and inclusive view of American art.”
Whitney curator Barbara Haskell, who is overseeing the installation in New York with Sarah Humphreville, senior curatorial assistant, noted, “Agnes Pelton spent her career channeling her flashes of heightened spiritual consciousness into luminous visual images, creating what she called ‘windows of illumination’ opening onto a radiant spiritual world. Her work takes us on an inner journey.”
After originating at the Phoenix Art Museum, the exhibition was seen at the New Mexico Museum of Art, prior to coming to the Whitney. Following the New York presentation, it will travel to the Palm Springs Art Museum, August 1–November 29, 2020.
cultural renaissance that emerged in Mexico in 1920 at the end of
that country’s revolution dramatically changed art not just in
Mexico but also in the United States. Vida Americana: Mexican
Muralists Remake American Art, 1925–1945 will explore the
profound influence Mexican artists had on the direction American art
would take. With approximately 200 works by sixty American and
Mexican artists, Vida Americana reorients art history,
acknowledging the wide-ranging and profound influence of Mexico’s
three leading muralists—José Clemente
Rivera, and David Alfaro
Siqueiros—on the style, subject matter, and ideology of
art in the United States made between 1925 and 1945.
Whitney Museum’s own connection to the Mexican muralists dates back
to 1924 when the Museum’s founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
presented an exhibition of the work of three Mexican artists—José
Clemente Orozco, Luis Hidalgo,
and Miguel Covarrubias—at the
Whitney Studio Club, organized by artist Alexander Brook.
It was Orozco’s first exhibition in the United States. A few years
later, in 1926, Orozco also showed watercolors from his House of
Tears series at the Studio Club; and the following year Juliana
Force, Mrs. Whitney’s executive assistant and future director
of the Whitney Museum, provided critical support for Orozco at
a time when he desperately needed it by acquiring ten of his
drawings. The Mexican muralists had a profound influence on many
artists who were mainstays of the Studio Club, and eventually the
Whitney Museum, including several American artists featured in Vida
Americana, such as Thomas Hart
Benton, William Gropper, Isamu Noguchi, and
Curated by Barbara Haskell, with Marcela Guerrero, assistant curator; Sarah Humphreville, senior curatorial assistant; and Alana Hernandez, former curatorial project assistant, Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925–1945 will be on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art from February 17 through May 17, 2020 and will travel to the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas, where it will be on display from June 25 through October 4, 2020. At the McNay Art Museum, the installation will be overseen by René Paul Barrilleaux.
Americana is an enormously important undertaking for the Whitney and
could not be more timely given its entwined aesthetic and political
concerns,” said Scott Rothkopf, Senior Deputy
Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator. “It
not only represents the culmination of nearly a decade of scholarly
research and generous international collaboration but also
demonstrates our commitment to presenting a more comprehensive and
inclusive view of twentieth-century and contemporary art in the
of paintings, portable frescoes, films, sculptures, prints,
photographs, and drawings, as well as reproductions of in-situ
murals, Vida Americana will be divided into nine thematic
sections and will occupy the entirety of the Whitney’s fifth-floor
Neil Bluhm Family Galleries. This unprecedented installation, and
the catalogue that accompanies it, will provide the first opportunity
to reconsider this cultural history, revealing the immense influence
of Mexican artists on their American counterparts between 1925 and
Whitney Museum of American Art announced
that it has acquired more
than 250 works of art since
last April. Among these acquisitions are 88
40 artists who were featured in the 2019 Whitney Biennial.
recent acquisitions include works by artists who are joining the
collection for the first time, including Laura Aguilar, John Ahearn,
Maria Berrio, Jonathan Lyndon Chase, ektor garcia, Ajay Kurian, Wendy
Red Star, Wallace & Donahue, and others.
Rothkopf, Senior Deputy Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family
Chief Curator commented: “Through the Biennial and our
emerging artist program, the Whitney is committed to adding new
voices to our collection, but we’re also deepening our
relationships with artists already represented in it, with
acquisitions of works by, among others, Alex Da Corte, Simone Leigh,
Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, and Hank Willis Thomas. We are particularly
proud that our recent gifts and purchases highlight the museum’s
increased scholarship on and engagement with Latinx and Indigenous
are thrilled to be making many important acquisitions from the 2019
Whitney Biennial and to be continuing our long-standing tradition of
expanding the collection through this flagship exhibition,”
noted Jane Panetta, Curator and Director of the Collection, who was
also a co-curator of the 2019
we are very excited to be acquiring work that will be part of our
upcoming collection presentation, Making
Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019,
featuring important examples by Shan Goshorn, Jordan Nassar and
Elaine Reichek. In all instances, these new acquisitions point to the
Whitney’s deep commitment to continuing to build an ambitious and
inclusive collection and to the significant relationship between our
exhibition program and the work we acquire.”
highlights of works acquired from the Biennial include John
composed photographs which feature carefully choreographed subjects
and settings to create portraits such asTête
that challenge the art historical canon while simultaneously
interrogating and celebrating Black identity; Janiva
Oh, Look Who Got Wet(2019)
featuring a graphically rendered figure against the backdrop of a
monumental landscape executed in brilliant colors with vivid
attention to the materiality of paint; Kota
video animation National
that utilizes repurposed footage of multiple NFL teams as the basis
for small-scale watercolor paintings used to create this video
depicting NFL players taking a knee during “The
in protest of police violence against unarmed Black men; Daniel
an assembled sculpture made of found materials whose haloed form,
blue robes, and title suggest the Virgin Mary but also reference
Hurricane Maria, the devastating 2017 storm that struck Puerto Rico;
lush painting A
Lesson in Longing(2019)
featuring her signature, gestural figures and adept use of color; and
that tracks Sherrie Levine’s Newborn
over the course of a day through various collections in homes,
galleries, and museums.
Whitney’s collection includes nearly 25,000 works created by
approximately 3,500 artists during the twentieth and twenty-first
centuries. This focus on the contemporary, along with a deep respect
for artists’ creative process and vision, has guided the Museum’s
collecting ever since its founding in 1930. The collection begins
with Ashcan School painting and follows the major movements of
the twentieth century in America, with strengths in modernism
and Social Realism, Precisionism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop art,
Minimalism, Postminimalism, art centered on identity and
politics that came to the fore in the 1980s and 1990s, and
Whitney Museum of American Art is
located at 99
Streets, New York City.
Museum hours are: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday
from 10:30 am to 6 pm; Friday from 10:30 am to 10 pm. Closed Tuesday
except in July and August. Adults: $25. Full-time students, visitors
65 & over, and visitors with disabilities: $18. 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 Awardand 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
The first solo museum show of Jason Moran (b. 1975, Houston, Texas), the interdisciplinary artist who grounds his work in music composition, will make its New York debut at the Whitney September 20, 2019. Jason Moran, which originated at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in the spring of 2018, presents the range of art Moran has explored, from his own sculptures and drawings to collaborations with visual artists to performance and video.
An immersive installation will fill the Whitney’s eighth floor galleries from September 20, 2019 through January 5, 2020. The exhibition will be activated by in-gallery musical performances by the artist himself and by other musicians throughout the run of the show. Two marquee events unique to the Whitney’s presentation will include the New York premiere of Kara Walker’s Katastwóf Karavan (2018), a steam-powered calliope housed in a parade wagon, and a special twentieth anniversary concert for Moran’s trio, The Bandwagon.
Jason Moran is overseen at the Whitney by Adrienne Edwards, the Engell Speyer Family Curator and Curator of Performance, who originated the show at the Walker.
A renowned musician and composer known for jazz styles from stride piano to free improvisation, Moran’s experimental approach to artmaking aligns objects with sound in an effort to underscore their inherent theatricality. Whether executed through the medium of sculpture, drawing, or sound, his works bridge the visual and performing arts. In all aspects, Moran’s creative process is informed by one of the essential tenets of jazz music: the “set,” in which musicians come together to engage in a collaborative process of improvisation, riffing off of one another to create the musical experience.
Moran is one of the most vital and boundary-breaking creative voices
of our time, and his wide-ranging collaborations with other visual
and performing artists have had a profoundly generative effect on
their work as well as on his own artistic development,”
remarked Scott Rothkopf, the Whitney’s Senior Deputy Director and
Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator. “This exhibition
extends the Whitney’s long and vibrant history of presenting
artists who traverse the boundaries of the visual and performing arts
and brings together so many artists who are dear to the Museum. We’re
thrilled the show marks Adrienne Edwards’s curatorial debut in our
galleries and also Jason’s return to the Whitney, following his
appearances in Glenn Ligon: AMERICA in 2011 and our Biennial the
Jazz pianist, composer, and performance artist Jason Moran was born in Houston, Texas in 1975 and earned a degree from the Manhattan School of Music in 1997, where he studied with Jaki Byard. He was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2010 and has been the Artistic Director for Jazz at the Kennedy Center since 2014. Deeply invested in reassessing and complicating the relationship between music and language, Moran’s extensive efforts in composition, improvisation, and performance challenge the status quo while respecting the accomplishments of his predecessors.
is heartening to have the national tour of Jason’s exhibition
culminate in New York City, where he and so many of his collaborators
live and make their work. New York is where jazz has evolved, and the
venues that fostered it are referenced directly in the major
sculptures that serve as stages within the show,” noted
Edwards. “Presenting the exhibition at the Whitney makes for
a double ‘homecoming,’ since Jason and his collaborators have
long-standing histories with the Museum, having exhibited here or
featuring in our collection. Taking its cue from Jason’s art and
that of his collaborators, this show questions the boundaries between
artistic disciplines and how they are presented. It is a solo show
that is also a group show; it takes place in neither a white cube nor
a black box theater or nightclub, but rather in an in-between space
that is some combination of them all. It is a survey exhibition, yet
holds together like a singular art installation—at times a visual
art show and at other times a performance venue.”
Jason Moran, which originated at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in the spring of 2018, and has traveled nationally to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and theWexner Center for the Arts, considers the artist’s solo and collaborative works as generative investigations that further the fields of experimental jazz, performance, and visual art. Shown together for the first time in this exhibition, Moran’s mixed-media “set” installations STAGED: Savoy Ballroom 1 (2015), STAGED: Three Deuces (2015), and STAGED: Slugs’ Saloon (2018) pay homage to iconic jazz venues of New York’s past. Collaboration has been central to Moran’s experiments, and among the many artists with whom he has collaborated are Stan Douglas, Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin, Theaster Gates, Joan Jonas, Glenn Ligon, Julie Mehretu, Adam Pendleton, Lorna Simpson, and Carrie Mae Weems. These collaborative works are exhibited here, many in a synchronized loop arranged by Moran on projection screens. Moran’s original musical scores and a recent selection of his charcoal drawings from the ongoing Run series, which give sculptural presence to sound, are also featured in the exhibition.
Sculptural vignettes based on storied New York City music venues, Moran’s STAGED works reimagine the architecture of these cultural landmarks and double as concert stages. STAGED: Savoy Ballroom 1 and STAGED: Three Deuces were part of Moran’s contributions to the 2015 Venice Biennale international exhibition All the World’s Future, curated by Okwui Enwezor. The latest sculpture from the series, STAGED: Slugs’ Saloon (2018), was commissioned for this exhibition by the Walker Art Center. Each is integrally connected to the social history and real politics of the venues for which they are named—important sites of invention and innovation in jazz that were also testing grounds of American policies of nondiscrimination at the height of the Jim Crow period of segregation.
The legendary Savoy Ballroom, which operated between 1926 and 1958 on Lenox Avenue in Harlem, was synonymous with the Swing Era and presented legendary big bands and performers, including Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, Chick Webb, and Count Basie. Moran’s STAGED: Savoy Ballroom 1 is lined with an ornate Dutch wax print fabric and features a lush curving wall and overhanging ceiling. The sculpture’s pristine veneer seems counter to the repetitive and droning prison work songs that emanate from speakers. Midtown Manhattan’s Three Deuces club, which operated on 52nd Street from the mid-1940s to 1950s, was an incubator for bebop pioneers like Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Max Roach. To evoke this seminal venue with STAGED: Three Deuces, Moran uses pale vinyl padding compressed under a barely eight-foot-tall ceiling and focuses on the corner of a room to conjure the compressed dimensions of the original venue.
Similarly, STAGED: Slugs’ Saloon pays homage to the celebrated East Village jazz venue that presented music from 1964 to 1972 on East Third Street. Often referred to as a “jazz dive”, Slugs’ Saloon showcased free jazz and some of the most important avant-gardists of the era, including Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, and Sun Ra. While the original space was described as narrow and oftentimes tightly packed, Moran’s Slugs’ Saloon is open with two mirrors flanking the stage and a multitier platform with a wooden floor that holds a vintage upright piano and drum set. The lower level holds a single chair and Wurlitzer Americana II jukebox, programmed with whistling tunes and samplings of audience incantations from the Village Vanguard.
Moran’s drawings from the Run series, originally shown at Luhring Augustine in 2016 for his first gallery exhibition, offer highly gestural entrees into the artist’s process. To create the works, Moran tapes elongated pieces of paper on the keys of a piano or keyboard and caps his fingers with charcoal. The paper then catches the movements of his playing. Reminiscent of Robert Morris’s series of Blind Time drawings, the works also bring to mind David Hammons’s basketball drawings and body prints or the impromptu drawings created by Joan Jonas during live performances. Achieved through acts of repetition, the Run series reveals the usually private and deliberate process of jazz composition and the artist’s performance practice, offering viewers an intimate view of his body’s movements in relation to the piano.
Projects and collaborations, central to Moran’s practice, are represented in the exhibition through the presentation of the artist’s work with leading visual artists. Since 2005, Moran has completed four collaborations with pioneering video performance artist Joan Jonas, and the evolution of much of Moran’s visual work, such as his extension of performance techniques to the process of drawing in the Run series or his transposition of traditional cultural forms into contemporary art, can be tracked through his work with Jonas. Moran first collaborated with Jonas on the music for The Shape, the Scent, the Feel of Things, an opera performed for the first time in 2005 at Dia: Beacon, and later on Reading Dante (2007–10), Reanimation (2012), and They Come to Us without a Word II (2015). For his first foray into filmmaking, artist Glenn Ligon tapped Moran to compose the score for Death of Tom (2008), an abstract re-creation of a scene from Edwin S. Porter’s fourteen-minute silent film version of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In Stan Douglas’s six-hour, single-channel film Luanda-Kinshasa (2013) depicting a fictional jazz-funk band in a recording session sometime in the mid-1970s, Moran appears as the band leader and worked with Douglas on song sequencing for this intricately composed film.
Exclusive to the presentation of Jason Moran at the Whitney will be the temporary installation of Kara Walker’s Katastwóf Karavan (2018) outside in front of the Museum. A steam-powered calliope housed in a parade wagon featuring silhouetted scenes on all four sides in Walker’s distinctive style, Katastwóf Karavan debuted in 2018 at the Prospect.4 Triennial in New Orleans. Katastwóf Karavan takes its title from the Haitian Creole phrase for “caravan of catastrophe” and alludes to the subjugation, violence, and humiliation of life for African Americans in the Antebellum South. The work also plays songs and sounds programmed by Walker and Moran that the artists associate with the long history of African American protest music. In the Prospect.4 Triennial, Moran played the work live via keyboard for two improvised performances. Moran will present another improvised performance with the work at the Whitney in October 2019.
Moran’s recording and performing activity has included collaborations with masters of the jazz form, including Charles Lloyd, Bill Frisell, and the late Sam Rivers. His work with his acclaimed trio The Bandwagon (with drummer Nasheet Waits and bassist Tarus Mateen) has resulted in a profound discography for Blue Note Records. Moran has a long-standing collaborative practice with his wife, the mezzo-soprano and composer Alicia Hall Moran. For the 2012 Whitney Biennial, together they organized BLEED, a five-day performance gathering that featured more than ninety performers, including Rashida Bumbray, Bill Frisell, Joan Jonas, Lorraine O’Grady, Esperanza Spalding, and Kara Walker. In 2016, Moran and Hall Moran formed the indie label YES RECORDS. Releases include Moran’s critically-acclaimed live solo piano recording, The Armory Concert (2016), as well as Thanksgiving at the Vanguard (2017), and BANGS (2017). Moran, who teaches at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, has produced several film scores and soundtracks, including the scores for Ava DuVernay’s films Selma and 13th.
Moran’s work has been presented by institutions including the Walker Art Center, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Park Avenue Armory, the Dia Art Foundation, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Harlem Stage, and Jazz at Lincoln Center. His first solo museum exhibition Jason Moran premiered in Minneapolis at the Walker Art Center from April 26 through August 26, 2018 and traveled to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston from September 19 through January 21, 2019. It was on view at the Wexner Center for the Arts through August 11, 2019 before its U.S. finale in Moran’s hometown of New York City at the Whitney.
This exhibition is accompanied by a 272-page publication, published in conjunction with the Walker Art Center’s 2018 exhibition, which considers the artist’s practice and his collaborative works as interdisciplinary investigations that further the fields of experimental jazz and visual art. Edited by Adrienne Edwards, it features an interview with the artist, and essays by Philip Bither, Okwui Enwezor, Danielle Jackson, Alicia Hall Moran, George E. Lewis, and Glenn Ligon. These texts are accompanied by a photo essay by Moran, a section documenting the creation of Moran’s STAGED sculptures, installation views from the Walker, photographs and other ephemera, and a complete list of works included in the Walker exhibition.
Moran is organized by the Walker Art Center, and curated by Adrienne
Edwards with Danielle A. Jackson. The Whitney’s presentation is
overseen by Adrienne Edwards, the Engell Speyer Family Curator and
Curator of Performance.
Jason Moran is sponsored by Delta. Generous support for Jason Moran is provided by The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Significant support is provided by Norman and Melissa Selby and the Joyce and George Wein Foundation.
Andy Warhol—From A To B And Back Again, The First Major Reexamination Of Warhol’s Art In A Generation, To Open At The Whitney On November 12
Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again—the first Andy Warhol retrospective organized in the U.S. since 1989, and the largest in terms of its scope of ideas and range of works—will be an occasion to experience and reconsider the work of one of the most inventive, influential, and important American artists. With more than 350 works of art, many assembled together for the first time, this landmark exhibition, organized by The Whitney Museum of American Art, will unite all aspects, media, and periods of Warhol’s forty-year career. Curated by Warhol authority Donna De Salvo, Deputy Director for International Initiatives and Senior Curator, with Christie Mitchell, curatorial assistant, and Mark Loiacono, curatorial research associate, the survey debuts at the Whitney on November 12, 2018, where it will run through March 31, 2019.
While Warhol’s Pop images of the 1960s are recognizable worldwide, what remains far less known is the work he produced in the 1970s and 80s. This exhibition positions Warhol’s career as a continuum, demonstrating that he didn’t slow down after surviving the assassination attempt that nearly took his life in 1968, but entered into a period of intense experimentation, continuing to use the techniques he’d developed early on and expanding upon his previous work. Taking the 1950s and his experience as a commercial illustrator as foundational, and including numerous masterpieces from the 1960s, Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again tracks and reappraises the later work of the 1970s and 80s through to Warhol’s untimely death in 1987.
(Following its premiere at the Whitney, the exhibition will travel to two other major American art museums, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and The Art Institute of Chicago. Bank of America is the National Tour Sponsor)
“Perhaps more than any artist before or since, Andy Warhol understood America’s defining twin desires for innovation and conformity, public visibility and absolute privacy,” noted De Salvo. “He transformed these contradictory impulses into a completely original art that, I believe, has profoundly influenced how we see and think about the world now. Warhol produced images that are now so familiar, it’s easy to forget just how unsettling and even shocking they were when they debuted. He pioneered the use of an industrial silkscreen process as a painterly brush to repeat images ‘identically’, creating seemingly endless variations that call the very value of our cultural icons into question. His repetitions, distortions, camouflaging, incongruous color, and recycling of his own imagery anticipated the most profound effects and issues of our current digital age when we no longer know which images to trust. From the 1950s until his death, Warhol challenged our fundamental beliefs, particularly our faith in images, even while he sought to believe in those images himself. Looking in this exhibition at the full sweep of his career makes it clear that Warhol was not just a twentieth-century titan but a seer of the twenty-first century as well.”
Occupying the entirety of the Whitney’s fifth-floor Neil Bluhm Family Galleries, the adjacent Kaufman Gallery, the John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation Lobby Gallery, the Susan and John Hess Family Gallery and Theater, Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again will be the largest exhibition devoted to a single artist yet to be presented in the Whitney’s downtown location. Tickets will be available on the Whitney’s website beginning in August.
Through his carefully cultivated persona and willingness to experiment with non-traditional art-making techniques, Andy Warhol (1928–1987) understood the growing power of images in contemporary life and helped to expand the role of the artist in society, making him one of the most distinct and internationally recognized American artists of the twentieth century. This exhibition sets out to prove that there remains far more to Warhol and his work than is commonly known. While the majority of exhibitions, books, articles, and films devoted to Warhol’s art have focused on a single medium, subject, series, or period, Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again will employ a chronological and thematic methodology that illuminates the breadth, depth, and interconnectedness of the artist’s production: from his beginnings as a commercial illustrator in the 1950s, to his iconic Pop masterpieces of the early 1960s, to the experimental work in film and other mediums from the 1960s and 70s, to his innovative use of readymade abstraction and the painterly sublime in the 1980s. The show’s title is taken from Warhol’s 1975 book, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again), an aphoristic memoir in which the artist gathered his thoughts on fame, love, beauty, class, money, and other key themes.
Building on a wealth of new materials, research and scholarship that has emerged since the artist’s untimely death in 1987, as well as De Salvo’s own expertise and original research conducted by the Whitney’s curatorial team, the checklist of works has been carefully selected from amongst the thousands of paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, films, videos, and photographs that Warhol produced during his lifetime.
Adam D. Weinberg, the Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney, commented: “This exhibition takes a fresh focus, while continuing the Whitney’s decades-long engagement with Warhol’s work which we presented in 1971 in a traveling retrospective and in Andy Warhol: Portraits of the 70s, organized by the Whitney in 1979–80. Few have had the opportunity to see an in-depth presentation of his career, and account for the scale, vibrant color, and material richness of the objects themselves. This exhibition, to be presented in three cities, will allow visitors to experience the work of one of America’s greatest cultural figures firsthand, and to better comprehend Warhol’s artistic genius and fearless experimentation.”
The exhibition covers the entirety of Warhol’s career, beginning with a concentrated focus on the commercial and private work he made between 1948 and 1960. Arriving in New York from his native Pittsburgh in the summer of 1949, Warhol began his career in an advertising world that was increasingly technological, and, concurrently, an art world obsessed with originality and the authenticity of the hand-made mark. The 1950s were a foundational period for the artist, a young gay man, beginning to find his way in the city. Though far less known than his later work, the commercial art that Warhol produced during his first decade in New York lays the groundwork for many of the themes and aesthetic devices that he would develop throughout the length of his career.Continue reading →
Today, The Whitney Museum of American Art announced that it will be open to the public seven days a week during the months of July and August. Ordinarily closed on Tuesdays, the Museum will be open during these summer months from 10:30 am to 6 pm Sunday through Thursday, beginning Tuesday, July 3. Extended hours on Friday and Saturday, from 10:30 am until 10 pm, continue, and Friday evenings are pay-what-you-wish from 7 to 10 pm.
The Whitney Museum of American Art is located at 99 Gansevoort Street between Washington and West Streets, New York City.
The Museum’s summer exhibitions include Mary Corse: A Survey in Light; Pacha, Llaqta, Wasichay: Indigenous Space, Modern Architecture, New Art; David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night; The Face in the Moon: Drawings and Prints by Louise Nevelson; Eckhaus Latta: Possessed; Between the Waters; Flash: Photographs by Harold Edgerton from the Whitney’s Collection; An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017; Christine Sun Kim: Too Much Future; and Where We Are: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1900–1960.
Regular 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 except in July and August. Adults: $25. Full-time students and visitors 65 & over: $18. 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.
This summer, The Whitney Museum of American Art will present the first museum solo exhibition of Eckhaus Latta, the New York-and Los Angeles-based fashion label, founded in 2011 by Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta. Eckhaus Latta: Possessed highlights the work of this compelling young design team who belong to a new generation of designers operating at the intersection of fashion and contemporary art.
Untitled (Preparatory drawing for Possessed), 2018. Colored pencil on paper. Image courtesy the artists
Eckhaus Latta’s fashion designs—for which they are currently finalists for the 2018 LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers—explore, in part, identity and reflect the fluid nature of gender and sexuality. While they fully participate in the fashion system, Latta and Eckhaus remain self-aware of their roles in a consumer society. Their recognizable designs have featured experimental knitwear; a wide range of materials including lace, rust, and recycled fabrics; and a general approach that supersedes gender binaries. At times, models are sent down the runway wearing clothes that challenge traditional definitions of male and female. Vanessa Friedman, fashion director and chief fashion critic at the New York Times, wrote that their clothes “are a kind of petri dish of associative splicing,” and that they “grapple honestly with what is on the designers’ minds: questions of gender and difference and the details of fallible beauty…”
This will be the first exhibition related to fashion at the Museum in twenty-one years, since The Warhol Look: Glamour, Style, Fashion (1997).
Eckhaus Latta: Possessed is organized by Christopher Y. Lew, Nancy and Fred Poses Associate Curator, and Lauri London Freedman, head of product development.
The exhibition, part of the Museum’s emerging artist series, will be on view in the first-floor John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation Gallery from August 3 through October 8, 2018. Access to the gallery is free of charge.
Mike Eckhaus (b. 1987, New York, NY) and Zoe Latta (b. 1987, Santa Cruz, CA) met as students at the Rhode Island School of Design while studying sculpture and textiles, respectively. They are known for using unexpected materials, emphasizing texture and tactility in their designs, and for incorporating writing, performance, and video into their practice. Through their emphasis on collaboration—with artists, musicians, and others—and an approach that plays with, and against, industry conventions, Eckhaus Latta addresses the crosscurrents of desire, consumption, and social relations. Their work has been featured in Greater New York 2015 at MoMA PS1 and Made in L.A. (2016) at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.
“As part of the Whitney’s emerging artist program, we sometimes showcase creative figures outside of the visual arts,” said Lew. “These figures from fields such as fashion, music, architecture, design, and food approach their disciplines in ways that are akin to visual artists, often questioning the systems and parameters that define what they do, speaking to the broader cultural moment, and blurring the boundaries between disciplines.”
“Working with Mike and Zoe has challenged us to consider the roles that our Museum spaces play and the objects that are presented. They pushed us to ask broader questions such as ‘How can we reexamine the format of an exhibition?’ and ‘What is the best way to exhibit an artist’s work?’ said Freedman.
For their Whitney exhibition, Eckhaus Latta will create a new three-part installation that embraces and brings into conversation various aspects of the fashion industry, from advertising and the consumer experience to voyeurism. At the entrance to the gallery will be a sequence of photographs that play on the tropes of iconic photoshoots found in fashion advertisements and magazines. These photographs explore how Eckhaus Latta’s unique aesthetic functions in relation to the highly polished look of the industry’s media. The core of their installation will be an operational retail environment in which visitors are welcome to touch, try on, and purchase clothing and accessories designed specifically for the show. This space is made in collaboration with more than a dozen artists whom Eckhaus Latta has been in dialogue with over the years who have created functional elements such as clothing racks, display shelves, and a dressing room. The exhibition concludes with a darkened room, evocative of a security office, which features a bank of screens depicting surveillance footage. Visitors will have a voyeuristic view of not only the rest of the installation but a glimpse of the tracking and surveillance that so often accompanies the experience of shopping.
The featured collaborators are Susan Cianciolo(b. 1969, Providence, RI; lives and works in Brooklyn, NY), Lauren Davis Fisher(b. 1984, Cambridge, MA; lives and works in Los Angeles, CA), Avena Venus Gallagher (b. 1973, Seattle, WA; lives and works in New York, NY), Jeffrey Joyal(b. 1988, Boston, MA; lives and works in New York, NY), Alexa Karolinski(b. 1984, Berlin, Germany; lives and works in Los Angeles), Valerie Keane(b. 1989, Passaic, NJ; lives and works in New York, NY),Jay Latta (b. 1951, Santa Cruz, CA; lives in works in Santa Cruz, CA), Matthew Lutz-Kinoy(b. 1984, New York, NY; lives and works between Los Angeles, CA and Paris, France), Annabeth Marks (b.1986, Rochester, NY; lives and works in New York, NY), Riley O’Neill(b. 1992, Los Angeles, CA; lives and works in Los Angeles, CA), Emma T. Price (b. 1987, Santa Cruz, CA; lives and works in Los Angeles, CA), Jessi Reaves(b. 1986, Portland, OR; lives and works in New York, NY), Erica Sarlo(b. 1988, Briarcliff Manor, NY; lives and works in Brooklyn, NY), Nora Jane Slade(b. 1986, Washington, D.C.; lives and works in Los Angeles, CA), Sophie Stone(b. 1987, Boston, MA; lives and works in New York, NY), Martine Syms(b. 1988, Los Angeles, CA; lives and works in Los Angeles, CA), Torey Thornton(b. 1990, Macon, GA; lives and works in Brooklyn, NY), Charlotte Wales(b. 1986, Farnborough, UK; lives and works in London, UK), Eric Wrenn(b. 1985, Southfield, MI; lives and works in New York, NY), and Amy Yao(b. 1977, Los Angeles, CA; lives and works in Long Beach, CA and New York, NY).
Major support for Eckhaus Latta: Possessed is provided by the John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation. Additional support is provided by Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner.
The Whitney Museum of American Art is located at 99 Gansevoort Streetbetween Washington and West Streets, New York City. Museum hours are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday from 10:30 am to 6 pm; Friday andSaturday from 10:30 am to 10 pm. Closed Tuesday. Adults: $25. Full-time students and visitors 65 & over: $18. 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.
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.
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 Museum of American Art is pleased to announce the appointment of Lindsay Pollock as Chief Communications and Content Officer. She joins the Museum on May 7.
Pollock comes to the Whitney from Art in America where she was Editor-in-Chief from 2011 to 2017. While there, she succeeded in re-positioning and re-energizing one of the oldest and most venerable contemporary art magazines.
Lindsay Pollock Named Chief Communications and Content Officer At The Whitney
Adam D. Weinberg, the Whitney’s Alice Pratt Brown Director, said, “Lindsay has long standing relationships and expertise in the art world as well as a deep appreciation for the Whitney’s mission and ethos. She will bring a creative spirit and fresh perspective to the areas she’ll be overseeing, including communications, digital media, and graphic design. We are thrilled that Lindsay will be joining the Museum.”
As Editor-in-Chief at Art in America, Pollock led strategic development and execution for the editorial aspects of the publication, in both print and on the web; worked with the Publisher to develop new audiences and invigorate existing ones; and, endeavored to increase revenues at a difficult time for the industry. She recruited new editorial staff; developed, trained, and mentored editorial and production staff; and promoted the magazine’s visibility through speaking engagements, events, and partnerships.
“The Whitney is one of the most dynamic and vibrant art institutions in the U.S., which happens to have been founded by a visionary woman, and whose nearly century-old mission is rooted in the desire to support and engage with American art,” said Pollock. “I am sincerely honored to be part of the talented team helping to shape the Whitney’s next chapter.”
Prior to her time at Art in America, Pollock worked for a number of years as a journalist, covering the arts at Bloomberg News, The Art Newspaper, and the New York Sun. Early in her career, she worked as marketing director for the Central Park Conservancy and as marketing manager at Sotheby’s. She is the author of The Girl with the Gallery, a biography on pioneering American art dealer Edith Halpert (Public Affairs, 2006). Pollock earned her B.A. in Art History from Barnard College and a M.S. from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
This June, the Whitney Museum of American Art will debut Mary Corse: A Survey in Light, the first museum survey devoted to the work of Mary Corse (born 1945, Berkeley, CA; lives and works in Topanga, CA). One of the few women associated with the West Coast Light and Space movement of the 1960s, Corse shared with her contemporaries a deep fascination with perception and with the possibility that light itself could serve as both a subject and material of art. Yet while others largely migrated away from painting into sculptural and environmental projects, Corse approached the question of light through painting.
Mary Corse (b. 1945), Untitled (Space + Electric Light), 1968. Argon light, plexiglass, and high-frequency generator, 45 1/4 x 45 1/4 x 4 3/4 in. (114.9 x 114.9 x 12.1 cm). Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; museum purchase with funds from the Annenberg Foundation. Photograph by Philipp Scholz Rittermann
This long-overdue examination—which will run at the Whitney from June 8 through November 25 in the eighth-floor Hurst Family Galleries—focuses on key moments of experimentation in Corse’s career, highlighting the ways in which her unique formal and material investigations helped forge a new language of painting.
The Whitney exhibition begins in 1964, when, following an unusually intense education in abstract painting as a teen in Berkeley, Corse enrolled at Chouinard Art Institute and moved to downtown Los Angeles. There, she dove headlong into a sustained dialogue with painting, questioning its most essential elements and forms—the brushstroke, the edge, the monochrome, the grid—while charting her own course through studies in quantum physics and unconventional “painting” materials, from fluorescent light and plexiglass to metallic flakes, glass microspheres, and clay. The survey will bring together for the first time Corse’s key bodies of work—including her early shaped canvases, freestanding sculptures, and the light encasements that she engineered between 1966 and 1968, in her early twenties, as well as her breakthrough White Light paintings, begun in 1968, and the Black Earth series that she initiated after moving in 1970 from her downtown studio to the rugged hills of Topanga Canyon.
As a focused survey that will introduce Corse’s work to many visitors, this exhibition endeavors to historicize this understudied artist’s career while placing significant attention on the viewing experience in the galleries. Corse’s exquisite works capture the physical and metaphysical qualities of light on a two-dimensional surface and have the power to activate the viewer in the creation of the perceptual experience: the kinetic effect of the work is contingent upon the movement of the body through space. This experiential component of Corse’s work will be of paramount importance to the installation.
The exhibition is organized in association with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where it will be on view from July 28 through November 10, 2019. Organized by Kim Conaty, Steven and Ann Ames Curator of Drawings and Prints, with Melinda Lang, curatorial assistant, in close collaboration with the artist, the exhibition unfolds both chronologically and thematically, presenting approximately 25 works dating from the mid-1960s to the present.
Conaty noted: “It’s an exciting moment to recognize Corse’s pioneering achievements, now more than five decades after she began. The experience of her work, which can be both material and immaterial, minimal and maximal, makes us slow down and look, then look again. There is a real magic to the work that is felt, not just seen, and we’re thrilled to offer our visitors the opportunity to discover it.”
In addition, in May 2018, Dia Art Foundation will unveil a new gallery dedicated to Corse at Dia:Beacon. On view for three years, this long-term installation examines the artist’s use of light and geometric form in painting. It celebrates recent acquisitions within a broader group of works that highlights the period from the late 1960s through the 1970s. On October 12, the Whitney is partnering with Dia to present a symposium at the Whitney reflecting on Corse’s career and offering new perspectives on her work. Further details will be forthcoming.
Scott Rothkopf, Deputy Director for Programs and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, commented: “Corse’s exhibition at the Whitney and installation at Dia will finally position her as the true innovator she has been for more than half a century. Not only did she play a key role in the emergence of the West Coast Light and Space movement, but since then she has persistently developed a body of painting remarkable for its technical experimentation and otherworldly beauty.”
Born in Berkeley, California, in 1945, Corse moved to Los Angeles in 1964 and earned her BFA at the Chouinard Art Institute (now California Institute of the Arts) in 1968. Her work was included at the time in several important group exhibitions, such as the 1970 Annual Exhibition at the Whitney (1970); Permutations: Light and Color, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (1970); and Twenty–Four Young Los Angeles Artists, LACMA (1971). Recently, her work has been featured in group exhibitions including Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (2011); Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950–1970, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (2011); Surface, Support, Process: The 1960s Monochrome in the Guggenheim Collection, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (2011); Reductive Minimalism: Women Artists in Dialogue, 1960–2012, University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor (2014); and Light and Space, Seattle Art Museum, WA (2015).
Corse is the recipient of the New Talent Purchase Award, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1967); the Theodoron Award, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1971); a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1972); and the Cartier Foundation Award (1993).
A richly illustrated monograph, published in cooperation with Yale University Press, will accompany the presentation. The publication features an essay by Conaty, along with additional texts by Robin Clark (Director of the Artist Initiative, SFMoMA), Michael Govan (CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director, Los Angeles County Museum of Art), Alexis Lowry (Associate Curator, Dia Art Foundation), and artist David Reed, as well as an illustrated chronology and exhibition history. It will serve as the first sustained study of Corse’s work and is intended to advance significantly the scholarship and interpretation around the artist’s practice.
Mary Corse: A Survey in Light is organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in association with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Significant support for Mary Corse: A Survey in Light is provided by The Barnett and Annalee Newman Foundation, Sueyun and Gene Locks, and Donna Perret Rosen and Benjamin M. Rosen.
This spring, the Whitney Museum of American Art presents a series of talks, performances, and workshops in conjunction with its exhibitions Between the Waters, Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables, Nick Mauss: Transmissions, and Zoe Leonard: Survey. These public programs offer opportunities to engage with artists and scholars to consider the questions and themes explored in each exhibition.
Over five years, Zoe Leonard sewed together skins of fruit to create Strange Fruit (1992–1997). Leonard chose not to preserve the resulting work, intending for its decay to be on view. On the occasion of the work’s appearance for the first time since 2001 in Zoe Leonard: Survey, a range of voices will reflect on Strange Fruit and its multiple historical inflections, its relevance and resonance today, and its very specific material existence. Speakers include writer, AIDS activist, and film- and videomaker Gregg Bordowitz; conceptual, interdisciplinary, transgender artist Jonah Groeneboer; interdisciplinary artist Katherine Hubbard; writer and scholar Fred Moten; artist Cameron Rowland; and conservator of contemporary art Christian Scheidemann. Elisabeth Sherman, assistant curator, moderates the conversation.
Ticketsare required ($10 adults; $8 members, students, and seniors, plus Museum admission; free for members).
A Chilling Make Believe: Alexis Rockman on Grant Wood
Friday, April 6, 6:30 pm
This talk by artist Alexis Rockman examines the romanticized and ambivalent view of a pre-industrial rural world depicted in Grant Wood’s landscape paintings. Situating Wood in a tradition of American art in which national identity depends on a personal visual vocabulary, Rockman shares his longstanding engagement with Wood through paintings that mix contemporary dread and hope for our ecological future.
Ticketsare required ($10 adults; $8 members, students, and seniors).
Demian DinéYazhi’: An Infected Sunset
Friday, April 20, 7 pm
In conjunction with the exhibition Between the Waters, Demian DinéYazhi’ reads selections from his poem, An Infected Sunset. This long-form descriptive prose poem is a reflection on queer sex, survival, death politics, indigenous identity, environmental injustice, and the importance of honoring community. The evening begins with a performance by Laura Ortman (White Mountain Apache).
Free with Museum admission during Pay-As-You-Wish Fridays. Advanced registrationrequired.
Badlands Unlimited presents What is Cryptocurrency?
Friday, April 27, 6:30 pm
Bitcoin, Ethereum, Monero, and other cryptocurrencies claim to hold the potential to revolutionize the very nature of global economics by decentralizing how money and value are exchanged. This program explores the basics of crypto: its history, technology, and current application in the field of finance and beyond. Maya Binyam and Grayson Earle, co-founders of Bail Bloc, a cryptocurrency app that seeks a real-world exchange value against bail, also lead a conversation about what crypto can be for artists and writers.
Tickets are required ($10 adults; $8 members, students, and seniors).
Transmissions: Nick Maussin conversation with Elena Filipovic, Jennifer Homans, and Elisabeth Sussman
Friday, May 4, 6:30 pm
In conjunction with Nick Mauss: Transmissions, this roundtable conversation explores the genesis of the exhibition through multiple circuits of inquiry and dialogue, how the interdependence of dance and art histories can be exhibited, and what challenges are brought up in the presentation of ephemeral, time-based, collaborative works. Addressing some of the counter-histories proposed by Transmissions, this conversation emphasizes exhibition-making as an artistic form. Mauss speaks with Elena Filipovic, director and curator, Kunsthalle Basel, Jennifer Homans, founder and director, The Center for Ballet in the Arts at NYU, and Elisabeth Sussman, Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography and co-curator of Nick Mauss: Transmissions, each of whom has worked closely with the artist. This program is organized in collaboration with The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University.
mecca vazie andrews and the MOVEMENT: [title] Saturday, February 3, 2018. 4 pm
An immersive performance in dialogue with the work of Laura Owens, mecca vazie andrews and the MOVEMENT’s [title] combines movement, sound, and projection. The running time is approximately fifty minutes. This program is organized in conjunction with Laura Owensin collaboration with 356 S. Mission Rd.
Ticketsare required for the performance ($10 adults; $8 members, students, and seniors, plus Museum admission; free for members).
What Art Speaks to These Times
Wednesday, February 7, 6:30 pm
What does it mean to be an artist in this political moment?An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017examines how artists have confronted the political and social issues of their day. This panel brings together four artists in the exhibition to speak about their individual aesthetic approaches to the political urgencies of our present moment. Speakers include artists Ja’Tovia Gary, Daniel Joseph Martinez, Julie Mehretu, and Dread Scott. Rujeko Hockley, assistant curator, moderates the discussion.
Ticketsare required ($10 adults; $8 members, students, and seniors). This event will also be livestreamed on Facebook.
Toyin Ojih Odutola in conversation Yaa Gyasi with Texas Isaiah
Friday, February 9, 6:30 pm
In her exhibitionTo Wander Determined, Toyin Ojih Odutola presents an interconnected series of fictional portraits, chronicling the lives of two aristocratic Nigerian families. For this program, Ojih Odutola invites novelist Yaa Gyasi, whose debut novel Homegoing received the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Award for Best First Book, and visual narrator Texas Isaiah, whose work documents gender, race, and sexuality, to discuss their respective practices as artists and their overlapping and intersecting interests, from narrative and portraiture to migration and dislocation. The conversation is moderated by Rujeko Hockley, assistant curator.
This event has reached ticketing capacity but will be live-streamed on Facebook. A limited number of standby tickets may be available at the admissions desk on a first-come, first-served basis. The standby line will open one hour prior to the program’s start time.
Where He Was: Auden in America
Sunday, February 25, 3 pm
Where We Are: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1900–1960, takes as its starting point a poem by W.H. Auden, September 1, 1939, which considers the ‘euphoric dream’ of American life on the cusp of world war, through the eyes of a foreigner, an Englishman. But why was Auden’s understanding of his adopted homeland so enduringly clear-eyed? Join two other U.S.-based émigré writers, poet Paul Muldoon and professor Michael Wood, for a conversation about Auden in America. A collaboration with the London Review of Books, their discussion will draw on Wood’s writing about Auden for the LRB, and Muldoon’s pastiche of his work in the poem 7, Middagh Street, to reflect on the USA’s significance for Auden, and vice versa, and why outsider perspectives can be the best mirror for a nation seeking to understand itself.
Tickets are required ($10 adults; $8 members, students, and seniors).
For a complete listing of upcoming programs, please visit whitney.org.
An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017 is organized by David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of the Collection; Jennie Goldstein, assistant curator; and Rujeko Hockley, assistant curator; with David Kiehl, curator emeritus; and Margaret Kross, curatorial assistant.
Laura Owens is organized by Scott Rothkopf, Deputy Director for Programs and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, with Jessica Man, curatorial assistant.
Toyin Ojih Odutola: To Wander Determined is organized by Rujeko Hockley, assistant curator and Melinda Lang, curatorial assistant.
Where We Are: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1900–1960 is organized by David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of the Collection, with Jennie Goldstein, assistant curator, and Margaret Kross, curatorial assistant.
Major support for An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017 is provided by The American Contemporary Art Foundation, Inc., Leonard A. Lauder, President.
Significant support is provided by the Ford Foundation. Major support for Laura Owens is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Whitney’s National Committee.
Significant support is provided by Nancy and Steve Crown; Candy and Michael Barasch; The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston; Mariel and Jack Cayre; Marcia Dunn and Jonathan Sobel; and anonymous donors.
Generous support is provided by Fotene Demoulas and Tom Coté, Charlotte Feng Ford, Allison and Warren Kanders, and Ashley Leeds and Christopher Harland.
Additional support is provided by Rebecca and Martin Eisenberg, Susan and Leonard Feinstein, and the Nina and Frank Moore Family Foundation.
Generous endowment support is provided by Lise and Michael Evans, Sueyun and Gene Locks, and Donna Perret Rosen and Benjamin M. Rosen.
Curatorial research and travel for this exhibition were funded by an endowment established by Rosina Lee Yue and Bert A. Lies, Jr., MD.
Toyin Ojih Odutola: To Wander Determined is sponsored by Audi of America. Major support is provided by the John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation. Generous support is provided by Jackson Tang. Additional support is provided by Bernard I. Lumpkin and Carmine D. Boccuzzi. Where We Are: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1900–1960 is sponsored by Delta.
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, 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 Philbinand 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 Museum of American Art debuts Toyin Ojih Odutola’s first solo museum exhibition in New York on October 20, 2017. The exhibition presents an interconnected series of portraits that chronicle the private lives and surroundings of two fictional aristocratic Nigerian families: the UmuEze Amara clan and the house of Obafemi. Rendered life-size in charcoal, pastel, and pencil, Ojih Odutola’s figures appear enigmatic and mysterious, set against luxurious backdrops of domesticity and leisure. In tandem with the artist’s larger conceived narrative, they highlight the malleability of identity and upend assumptions about race, wealth, and class. The exhibition features a significant new body of work alongside a small selection of works made in 2016.
Ojih Odutola creates intimate drawings that explore the complexity of identification and belonging. Depicted in her distinctive style of intricate mark-making, her sumptuous compositions reimagine the genre and traditions of portraiture. They are informed by the artist’s own array of inspirations, which range from art history to popular culture to experiences of migration and dislocation. Highly attentive to detail and the nuances of space and color—whether of palette or skin—Ojih Odutola continues her examinations of narrative, authenticity, and representation.
Toyin Ojih Odutola (b. 1985) was born in Ife, Nigeria and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. She currently lives and works in New York City. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco (2016), the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis (2015), and the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art (2013). She has participated in several group shows including Disguise: Masks and Global African Art, Brooklyn Museum (2015); Ballpoint Pen Drawing Since 1950, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (2013); Fore, Studio Museum in Harlem (2012); The Moment for Ink, Chinese Cultural Center, San Francisco (2013); and The Progress of Love, Menil Collection, Houston (2012). Ojih Odutola received her MFA from the California College of Arts, San Francisco in 2012 and her BFA from the University of Alabama, Huntsville in 2008.
Toyin Ojih Odutola: To Wander Determined will be on view in the first-floor John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation Gallery, which is accessible to the public free-of-charge.
This exhibition is organized by Rujeko Hockley, assistant curator, and Melinda Lang, curatorial assistant. Toyin Ojih Odutola: To Wander Determined is sponsored by Audi of America. Major support is provided by the John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation. Generous support is provided by Jackson Tang.
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.
“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 →
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 (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
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 →
In the early 1930s, Alexander Calder invented an entirely new mode of art, the mobile— a kinetic form of sculpture in which carefully balanced components manifest their own unique systems of movement. These works operate in highly sophisticated ways, ranging from gentle rotations to uncanny gestures, and at times, trigger unpredictable percussive sounds.
Calder: Hypermobility (June 9 – October 6, 2017) focuses on the extraordinary breadth of movement and sound in the work, which encompasses major examples of Calder’s work including early motor-driven abstractions, sound-generating Gongs, and standing and hanging mobiles. This exhibition brings together a rich constellation of key sculptures and provides a rare opportunity to experience the works as the artist intended—in motion. Regular activations will occur in the galleries, revealing the inherent kinetic nature of Calder’s work, as well as its relationship to performance and the theatrical stage. Influenced in part by the artist’s fascination and engagement with choreography, Calder’s sculptures contain an embedded performativity that is reflected in their idiosyncratic motions and the perceptual responses they provoke.
In collaboration with the Calder Foundation, the exhibition will feature an expansive series of performances and events, including a number of episodic, one-time demonstrations of rarely seen works, as well as new commissions, which will bring contemporary artists into dialogue with Calder’s innovations and illuminate the many ways in which his art continues to challenge and inform new generations.
The exhibition is organized by Jay Sanders, Engell Speyer Family Curator and Curator of Performance, with Greta Hartenstein, senior curatorial assistant, and Melinda Lang, curatorial assistant.
Major support for Calder: Hypermobility is provided by the Dalio Foundation, the Jerome L. Greene Foundation, and the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation. Generous Support is provided by Irma and Norman Braman, the Fisher Family, Norman and Melissa Selby, and Michelle Smith. Additional support is provided by the Mitzi & Warren Eisenberg Family Foundation.
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.
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.
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 2017 Whitney Biennial is co-curated by Christopher Y. Lew and Mia LocksContinue reading →
In November 2017, the Whitney Museum of American Artwill 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.
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 →
“Looking at Mars, this imagined space reflects most humans back to Earth.”
Since relocating to California’s Mojave desert in 2013, artist MPA (b. 1980; Redding, CA) has been immersed in a broad inquiry into the potential colonization of Mars, often known as the red planet. In this multi-part exhibition the artist looks at Mars as a place for settlement and a resource for our own planet, as well as a site of possible human origin. MPA’s research considers unconventional sources such as mythology, psychic accounts, and personal narratives, as credible authorities. By reflecting more generally on histories of colonization,RED IN VIEWraises questions of militarism and patriarchy, prompting us to examine our own, often subconscious, colonizing behaviors.
MPA (b. 1980), Entrance, 2014–2016 (left). Pigmented inkjet print mounted on mat board and painted wood, 7 × 7 in. (17.8 × 17.8 cm). Courtesy of the artist and Higher Pictures. Surrender, 2014–2016 (right). Pigmented inkjet print mounted on mat board and painted wood, 7 × 7 in. (17.8 × 17.8 cm). Courtesy of the artist and Higher Pictures
This work was first presented asTHE INTERVIEW: Red, Red Future(2016), organized by curator Dean Daderko, at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.RED IN VIEW, her exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, presents the second episode in this ongoing project.
RED IN VIEWunfolds in four movements throughout the museum. The exhibition begins in the lobby gallery and extends to the theater in February for a culminating performance. Over the course of ten continuous days, MPA and artists Malin Arnell and Amapola Prada performOrbit, living in the narrow space between the windowpanes of the theater. The space becomes a biosphere: an enclosed, self-sustaining habitat, modeled after an environment where the first settlers on Mars might reside. (Aspects of the exhibition will be on view through February 27, 2017 in the John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation Gallery, on the Museum’s first floor, which is accessible to the public free-of-charge.)
December 9, and January 13, 7–9:30 pm, Lobby and Lobby Gallery: A periodic live appearance in the gallery by two Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos.
II. The Interview
November 11–February 27, Lobby Gallery: The interview is active. You are invited to pick up the phone.
February 9–19, Floor Three, Hess Family Theater: A test. MPA, with artists Malin Arnell and Amapola Prada, inhabit the narrow space between the windowpanes of the theater, overlooking the Hudson River. For twenty-four hours a day over the course of ten days, the space becomes an artificial biosphere: an enclosed, self-sustaining habitat, modeled after an environment where the first settlers on Mars would likely reside. The participants’ conditions emulate those of astronauts orbiting the earth: sleeping in ninety-minute periods and receiving messages on a delay. Everything is recorded and live-edited for Orbit TV, the final document of the trial.
February 19, 8 pm, Floor Three, Hess Family Theater *Tickets required: MPA hosts a dramatic live finale ofOrbit. This theatrical event orchestrates a culminating series of actions within a sound environment by M. Cay Castagnetto.
MPA (b. 1980) has explored a range of meditative, durational, theatrical, and actionist modes of performance to engage “the energetic” as a potential material in live work. Enriched with ritual, her performances and installations critically examine behaviors of power in personal and social spaces. In previous works, she has proposed questions on the global arms race, patriarchy as governance, and the dysfunctional union of art and capitalist commodity. MPA’s work has been exhibited at the Swiss Institute, New York; Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE); the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Netherlands; and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Oaxaca, Mexico. Her dynamic body of work Directing Light onto Fist of Father (2011) at Leo Koenig Projekte in New York, combined a looping 16 mm film and a plaster cast of MPA’s father’s fist in an installation that incited three durational performances. In Trilogy (o) (2012), presented at Human Resources in Los Angeles, NASA sound recordings of dying stars accompanied thirty-one photographs of Nike war missiles arranged as a moon calendar. Continue reading →
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.
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) 570-3600or visit whitney.org.
This fall, the Whitney Museum of American Art will presents Dreamlands: lmmersive Cinema and Art, 1905-2016, a landmark exhibition that focuses on the ways in which artists have dismantled and reassembled the conventions of cinema-screen, projection, darkness-to create new experiences of the moving image. The exhibition will fill the Museum’s 18,000-square-foot Neil Bluhm Family Galleries on the fifth floor, as well as the adjacent Kaufman Gallery, and will include a film series in the Susan and John Hess Family Theater.Dreamlands will be on view from October 28, 2016 through February 5, 2017.
“Dreamlands brings together a group of artists whose work articulates the profound shift that has taken place as technology has transitioned the moving image from analog to virtual,” states the Whitney’s Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Curator Chrissie lies, who is curating the exhibition. “The exhibition’s title refers to the science fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft’s alternate fictional dimension, whose terrain of cities, forests, mountains, and an underworld can be visited only through dreams. Similarly, the spaces in Dreamlands connect different historical moments of cinematic experimentation, creating a story that unfolds like a map of dreaming. A series of immersive spaces fracture our assumptions of perspective, the horizon line, and a stable projected image.“
The exhibition, with works spanning from the early 1900s to the present, is the result of four years of intensive scholarly research by curator lies, involving experts from all corners of the worlds of art and film. It will be the most technologically complex project mounted in the Whitney’s new building to date, embracing a wide range of moving image techniques, from hand-painted film to the latest digital technologies.
The works on view use color, touch, music, spectacle, light, and darkness to confound our expectations, flattening space through animation and abstraction, or heightening the illusion of three dimensions. Visitors will experience projections, sculptures, and installations that allow them to: walk through projection beams and reams of film stock; watch a video made with a 360-degree camera projected inside the ceiling of a cardboard geodesic dome, and on Oculus Rifts; view concept artwork made for Walt Disney‘s Fantasia; view a synesthetic environment in which music is written according to color; see the visual futurist Hollywood designer Syd Mead‘s colorful concept artwork for Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner shown projected onto screens, creating a sense of the uncanny nair environment of the city; look at the world through 3-D glasses in installations; and step inside the screen and become part of it.
The exhibition features works by American artists and filmmakers, and also includes a small number of works of German cinema and art from the 1920s with a strong relationship to, and influence on, American art and film. Featured are works in installation, drawing, 3-D environments, sculpture, performance, painting, and online space, by Trisha Baga, Ivana Basic, Frances Bodomo, Dora Budor, ian Cheng, Bruce Conner, Ben Coonley, Joseph Cornell, Andrea Crespo, Franc;:ois Curlet, Alex Da Corte, Oskar Fischinger, Liam Gillick, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Pierre Huyghe, Alex Israel, Mehdi Belhaj Kacem and Pierre Joseph, Aidan Koch, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Anthony McCall, Josiah McElheny, Syd Mead, Lorna Mills, Jayson Musson, Melik Ohanian, Philippe Parreno, Jenny Perlin, Mathias Poledna, Edwin S. Porter, Oskar Schlemmer, Hito Steyer!, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Stan VanDerBeek, Artie Vierkant, and Jud Yalkut, among others, some of which have been made especially for the exhibition.
As film historian Tom Gunning writes in his catalogue essay, “What is Cinema? The Challenge of the Moving Image Past and Future“: “Cinema, before it is anything else, before it is a story, a canvas for special effects, a display of the beauty and grace of stars, before it weaves a tissue of ideology or makes us laugh and cry, presents images that move. This is why it was invented, what separates it from the previous arts of depiction, and also what it shares with the torrent of emerging technological media. But this is also what we take for granted in watching movies and other moving-image media.“Continue reading →
This fall, The Whitney Museum Of American Art will present Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight, the first museum exhibition of this groundbreaking artist in New York City in nearly two decades. Focusing on the years 1948–1978, the period during which Herrera developed her signature, hard-edged style, the exhibition will situate Herrera’s pioneering abstract work in its proper place in the history of twentieth century art.
Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight features more than fifty works, including paintings, three-dimensional works, and works on paper. Organized by Dana Miller, until recently the Richard DeMartini Family Curator and Director of the Collection at the Whitney, in close collaboration with the artist, the exhibition will be on view at the Whitney from September 16, 2016, through January 2, 2017, and at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, from February 4 through April 16, 2017.
“Herrera has been painting for more than seven decades, though it is only over the past decade or so that acclaim for her work has catapulted the artist to international prominence. This overdue evaluation offers the first comprehensive look at her early career, the result of time spent in the art worlds of Havana, Paris, and New York,” explained Miller.
Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight is comprised of three sections, organized in rough chronological sequence. The first section features earlier works from the formative period, 1948–1958, during which Herrera experimented with different modes of abstraction before establishing the visual language that she would explore with great nuance for the succeeding five decades. Featuring more than a dozen paintings made while Herrera lived in Paris (1948–1953) in the years following World War II, many of these works have never been displayed before in a museum. It was during this period that Herrera developed her distinctive style of geometric abstraction, moving towards cleaner lines and a reduced palette. Crucially, she also began using the edges of the canvas and the frame as compositional elements.
An unprecedented gathering of works from what Herrera considers her most important series, Blanco y Verde, comprise the second section and this room will serve as the centerpiece of the exhibition. The nine paintings from the series, spanning the years 1959–1971, illustrate the groundbreaking ways in which Herrera conceptualized her paintings as objects, using the physical structure of the canvas as a compositional tool and integrating the surrounding environment. These Blanco y Verde works will be isolated in their own gallery, illuminating the various compositional twists and inflections of the dichromatic works and creating a dynamic interplay of visual correspondences.
The final section will feature work dating from approximately 1962–1978, illuminating Herrera’s continued experimentation with figure/ground relationships. Also included in this section are four sculptural works, which Herrera refers to as “estructuras.” These wooden works, alongside several drawings from the 1960s, will illustrate the crucial architectural aspect of her vision and the way in which many of Herrera’s paintings begin with a three-dimensional concept. The latest works in this section will be seven vivid paintings that comprise her brilliant Days of the Week series from 1975–78.
Born May 30, 1915, in Havana, Cuba, Carmen Herrera was educated in Havana and Paris, studying art, art history, and architecture. In 1939 she married an American, Jesse Loewenthal, and moved to New York City, where she attended classes at the Art Students League and was a frequent visitor to the Whitney Museum of American Art. From 1948 to 1953, Herrera and Loewenthal lived in Paris, where she became associated with an international group of artists, the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles. Herrera exhibited her work with them regularly and developed a distilled, geometric style of abstraction, reducing her palette to three colors for each composition, then further to two. Herrera’s hard-edged canvases emerged at the same time that Ellsworth Kelly, whose time in France overlapped with Herrera’s, began producing his own abstractions and around the same time that Frank Stella began producing his famous black paintings.
Herrera’s ascetic compositions, which prefigured the development of Minimalism by almost a decade, did not find a warm reception when she returned to New York in 1954, a time when Abstract Expressionism still reigned supreme. As both a woman and an immigrant, Herrera faced significant discrimination in the art world; yet she persisted, and continued to paint for the next six decades, only rarely exhibiting her work publicly. Today, at the age of 101, Herrera continues to work almost every day in her studio, and her oeuvre demonstrates a disciplined but highly sophisticated exploration of color and form. As she once stated, “I believe that I will always be in awe of the straight line, its beauty is what keeps me painting.” Since the late 1990s Herrera has garnered increasing attention for her work, selling her first painting in 2004. The last significant museum presentation of Herrera’s work in this country was a 2005 show at Miami Art Central, which was preceded only by a 1998 show of her black and white paintings at El Museo del Barrio and a 1985 show at The Alternative Museum, both in New York. Her first monographic presentation in Europe was held at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, England, in 2009, which then traveled to Museum Pfalzgalerie, Kaiserslautern, Germany. In the last decade, the Museum of Modern Art, Walker Art Center, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and Tate Modern have all acquired works by the artist.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue, with essays by Miller as well as Serge Lemoine, emeritus professor at the Sorbonne and former chief curator and director of the Musée d’Orsay; Gerardo Mosquera, art historian, critic, and curator based in Havana and Madrid; and Edward J. Sullivan, Helen Gould Sheppard Professor in the History of Art, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. The catalogue will also contain an illustrated chronology by Monica Espinel.
Major support is provided by the Barnett and Annalee Newman Foundation and the National Committee of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Generous support is provided by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc.; Tony Bechara; Tom and Lisa Blumenthal; and The Diane and Bruce Halle Foundation. Additional support is provided by Estrellita and Daniel Brodsky, The Cowles Charitable Trust, Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla, Agnes Gund, the Elizabeth A. Sackler Museum Educational Trust, and an anonymous donor. Significant endowment support is provided by Sueyun and Gene Locks.
This fall, The Whitney Museum of American Art presents Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905–2016, a landmark exhibition that focuses on the ways in which artists have dismantled and reassembled the conventions of cinema—screen, projection, darkness—to create new experiences of the moving image. The exhibition will fill the Museum’s 18,000-square-foot Neil Bluhm Family Galleries on the fifth floor, as well as the adjacent Kaufman Gallery, and will include a film series in the third-floor Susan and John Hess Family Theater. Dreamlandswill be on view from October 28, 2016 through February 5, 2017.
As film historian Tom Gunning writes in his catalogue essay, “What is Cinema? The Challenge of the Moving Image Past and Future”: “Cinema, before it is anything else, before it is a story, a canvas for special effects, a display of the beauty and grace of stars, before it weaves a tissue of ideology or makes us laugh and cry, presents images that move. This is why it was invented, what separates it from the previous arts of depiction, and also what it shares with the torrent of emerging technological media. But this is also what we take for granted in watching movies and other moving-image media.”
Hito Steyerl (b. 1966), Installation view of Factory of the Sun, 2015 (German Pavilion, 56th Venice Biennale, 2015). Video, color, sound; 21 min., looped; with environment, dimensions variable. Collection of the artist; courtesy Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York. Photograph by Manuel Reinartz; image courtesy the artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York
The exhibition features works by American artists and filmmakers (including , Trisha Baga, Frances Bodomo, Dora Budor, Ian Cheng, Bruce Conner, Ben Coonley, Joseph Cornell, Andrea Crespo, François Curlet, Alex Da Corte, Oskar Fischinger, Liam Gillick, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Pierre Huyghe, Alex Israel, Mehdi Belhaj Kacem and Pierre Joseph, Aidan Koch, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Anthony McCall, Josiah McElheny, Syd Mead, Lorna Mills, Melik Ohanian, Philippe Parreno, Jenny Perlin, Mathias Poledna, Edwin S. Porter, Oskar Schlemmer, Hito Steyerl, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Stan VanDerBeek, Artie Vierkant, and Jud Yalkut, among others) and also includes a small number of works of German cinema and art from the 1920s with a strong relationship to, and influence on, American art and film. The exhibition, with works spanning from the early 1900s to the present, is the result of four years of intensive scholarly research by curator Iles, involving experts from all corners of the worlds of art and film. It will be the most technologically complex project mounted in the Whitney’s new building to date, embracing a wide range of moving image techniques, from hand-painted film to the latest digital technologies, some of which have been made especially for the exhibition.
The works on view will use color, touch, music, spectacle, light, and darkness to confound our expectations, flattening space through animation and abstraction, or heightening the illusion of three dimensions. Visitors will experience projections, sculptures, and installations that allow them to: walk through projection beams and reams of film stock; watch a video made with a 360-degree camera projected inside the ceiling of a cardboard geodesic dome, and on Oculus Rifts; view concept artwork made for Walt Disney’s Fantasia; view a synesthetic environment in which music is written according to color; see the visual futurist Hollywood designer Syd Mead’s colorful concept artwork for Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner shown projected onto screens, creating a sense of the uncanny noir environment of the city; look at the world through 3-D glasses in installations; and step inside the screen and become part of it.
The exhibition is organized into three parts:
1905–1930s: The first part, beginning in 1905 and including a group of works from the 1920s and 1930s, shows some of the earliest experiments with cinematic space, and the way in which sweeping camera shots, abstraction, color, music, and kaleidoscopic space were used to create what Tom Gunning has called a “cinema of attractions,” in which the spectator is jolted out of the conventions of seeing. In a 1968 film reconstruction of Oskar Schlemmer’s classic Triadic Ballet (1922), dancers move across a flattened space of color like animated figures on a screen. In Fischinger’s 1926 work Raumlichtkunst (Space Light Art), three screens project abstract color forms, including hypnotic spirals and geometric shapes, to percussive music, creating what Fischinger described as “an intoxication of light.”
1940s–1980s: In the second part of the exhibition, which includes concept artwork from Walt Disney’s Fantasia (1940) as well as Bruce Conner’s spectacular CROSSROADS (1976), a collage of government film footage depicting atomic test explosions, the idealistic experiments of the previous decades give way to a darker and more fragmented experience of the cinematic. Drawings and watercolors from three key moments of Disney’s immersive sensory fusion of music and image clearly situate Fantasia as both part of the end of the pre-World War II utopian vision for cinema, and the beginning of a new media environment that followed the end of the war and the dropping of the atomic bomb. Projective installations by Jud Yalkut (Destruct Film, 1967) and Anthony McCall (Line Describing a Cone, 1973) detach the screen from its fixed position, dispersing it into a dark space in which the light beam becomes a sculptural form furthering the shift from image to surface that had begun in the 1920s. The simultaneous blurring of the boundary between technology and the human body, epitomized by the science fiction film Blade Runner (1982), can be seen in a group of production design paintings for the film by Syd Mead, specially assembled for the exhibition to reveal the cinematic space of the city as spectacle.
1990S–THE PRESENT: The third part of the exhibition articulates the breadth and complexity of more recent works in which cinematic space has been reassembled into new models by contemporary artists. The relationship between the body and technology has been recalibrated through the touch screen and virtual space, through a continual online exchange of images, visual styles, avatars, anime, and identities. The infinite manipulability of the digital image, now dominated by the graphic, animated form, special effects, and virtual reality, has produced a new visual ecosystem, in which artifice and reality have become versions of each other.
The fear and exhilaration around the idea of the organic living body becoming fused with technological elements, seen in the earliest robotic figures of Oskar Schlemmer, return here in the form of an artificial intelligence persona played by actress Tilda Swinton, who talks to viewers through a mirrored screen and a microphone in the pioneer Lynn Hershman Leeson’s DiNA. In Ian Cheng’s “live simulations,” chat bots projected onto a large screen talk to each other, or to themselves, creating a narrative in a state of perpetual evolution.
Dora Budor’s new sculpture, made for the exhibition, is a large cube-shaped environment, whose shape evokes the Borg Cube from Star Trek. Its interior walls pulse with flickering light triggered by viewers moving through the space, which illuminates the ceiling above, a resin panel inside of which six thousand dead frogs—special effects props used in the film Magnolia (1999)—are suspended above our heads. Also included in the exhibition will be Hito Steyerl’s immersive installation Factory of the Sun, commissioned for the German Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale and shown in New York for the first time here.
“Dreamlands brings together a group of artists whose work articulates the profound shift that has taken place as technology has transitioned the moving image from analog to virtual,” states Curator Chrissie Iles, who is curating the exhibition. “The exhibition’s title refers to the science fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft’s alternate fictional dimension, whose terrain of cities, forests, mountains, and an underworld can be visited only through dreams. Similarly, the spaces in Dreamlands connect different historical moments of cinematic experimentation, creating a story that unfolds like a map of dreaming. A series of immersive spaces fracture our assumptions of perspective, the horizon line, and a stable projected image.”
The exhibition will also include a film program, featuring artists and filmmakers from the earliest days of cinema to the most cutting-edge artists working with virtual reality and digital space. A catalogue will be published by the Whitney (distributed by Yale University Press) to accompany the exhibition, including essays by Karen Archey, Giuliana Bruno, John Canemaker, Brian Droitcour, Noam Elcott, Tom Gunning, J. Hoberman, Esther Leslie, David Lewis, and Chrissie Iles.
Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905–2016 is sponsored by Audi. Major support is provided by the Dalio Foundation, The Robert Rosenkranz Foundation, and the National Committee of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Additional generous support is provided by Lori Chemla and Catherine Orentreich.