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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frist Art Museum Presents International Roster of Contemporary Artists in “Chaos and Awe”

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Barnaby Furnas (b. 1973, Philadelphia; based in New York). Untitled (Flood), 2007. Urethane on linen; support: 84 x 140 in. Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Sarah Norton Goodyear Fund, 2010, 2010:12. © Barnaby Furnas. Photo: Tom Loonan

The Frist Art Museum presents Chaos and Awe: Painting for the 21st Century, a sweeping survey of paintings from around the world that invite contemplation of seemingly ungraspable forces shaping contemporary society, from the ideological to the technological. Organized by Frist Art Museum chief curator Mark Scala, the exhibition will be on view in the museum’s Ingram Gallery from June 22 through September 16, 2018. It will be presented at the Chrysler Museum from November 15, 2018, through April 28, 2019.Frist-Art-Museum Continue reading

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

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

laura-owens-untitled-2014

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

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

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

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

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

The Whitney Museum of American Art Announces New Expansion of its Leadership Team

Appoints Donna De Salvo to New Position of Deputy Director for International Initiatives and Senior Curator, and Scott Rothkopf to Deputy Director for Programs and Chief Curator

Adam D. Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, today announced that the Museum is expanding its leadership team by appointing Donna De Salvo to the new position of Deputy Director for International Initiatives and Senior Curator, and Scott Rothkopf to Deputy Director for Programs and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, effective July 1, 2015. The move is designed to bolster the Whitney’s leadership in response to the recent growth of the Museum, the ever-widening programming opportunities available in its new building, and in anticipation of the greater role the Museum expects to play on the internationally art front.

In her new role, Donna De Salvo, who has served as the Whitney’s Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Programs since 2006, will help lead the Museum’s efforts to define and communicate an expanded and more complex understanding of American art and artists in contemporary culture globally. In addition to organizing exhibitions, De Salvo will encourage greater visibility for the Whitney through programs, professional exchanges,

Donna De Salvo, the new Deputy Director for International Initiatives and Senior Curator at The Whitney Museum of American Art

Donna De Salvo, the new Deputy Director for International Initiatives and Senior Curator at The Whitney Museum of American Art

and institutional development. De Salvo will also be involved in long-term strategic planning for the institution.

In addition to leading the curatorial team for the Whitney’s inaugural collection display America Is Hard to See, Miss De Salvo has curated Full House: The Whitney’s Collection at 75 (2006) and Robert Irwin: Scrim veil—Black rectangle—Natural light, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1977) (2013). Among the exhibitions she has co-curated are Sinister Pop (2012–13, with Scott Rothkopf), Signs & Symbols (2012, with Jane Panetta), Lawrence Weiner: AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE (2007–08, with Ann Goldstein) and Roni Horn aka Roni Horn (2009–10, with Carter Foster and Mark Godfrey). With Linda Norden, she co-curated Course of Empire: Paintings by Ed Ruscha for the United States Pavilion at the 51st Venice Biennale, an exhibition that was also presented at the Whitney (2005–06).

Prior to working at the Whitney, De Salvo served for five years as a Senior Curator at Tate Modern, London, where she curated such exhibitions such as Open Systems: Rethinking Art c. 1970 (2005); Marsyas (Anish Kapoor’s 2003 work commissioned by Tate Modern for its Turbine Hall); and Century City: Art and Culture in the Modern Metropolis (2001). Among the exhibitions she has curated at other institutions are Hand-Painted Pop: American Art in Transition, 1955–1962 (MOCA Los Angeles, 1992–93), Staging Surrealism (Wexner Center for the Arts, 1997–98), and A Museum Looks at Itself: Mapping Past and Present at the Parrish Art Museum (Parrish Art Museum, 1992).

From 1981 to 1986, De Salvo was a curator at the Dia Art Foundation, where she worked closely with several of its artists, including John Chamberlain, Walter De Maria, Donald Judd, Cy Twombly, and Andy Warhol. A noted expert on the work of Warhol, she was Adjunct Curator for the Andy Warhol Museum and was curator of Andy Warhol: Disaster Paintings, 1963 (Dia Art Foundation, 1986), Andy Warhol: Hand-Painted Images, 1960–62 (Dia Art Foundation, 1987), “Success is a Job in New York”: The early art and business of Andy Warhol (Grey Art Gallery, 1989), and a retrospective of the artist’s work at Tate Modern (2002). She is currently developing a thematic retrospective of Warhol’s work to be presented at the Whitney in 2018.

She has written catalogues and essays and lectured on a wide range of modern and contemporary artists, including Barbara Bloom, Lee Bontecou, John Chamberlain, William Eggleston, Isa Genzken, Robert Gober, Philip Guston, Wade Guyton, Ray Johnson, Anish Kapoor, Per Kirkeby, Barbara Kruger, Giorgio Morandi, Barnett Newman, Chris Ofili, Gerhard Richter, Robert Smithson, Cy Twombly, Mark Wallinger, and Gillian Wearing. A recipient of the Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Award from the College Art Association, she has participated in many international juries and review panels and has taught at the curatorial studies programs at Bard College and The Royal College of Art.

Donna De Salvo stated, “I am delighted to be entrusted with the responsibilities of this new position to carry forward our work and to further enhance and extend what American art means on a world stage. I believe we have created a framework, both architecturally and programmatically, that provides endless possibilities in future. I am especially excited by the prospect of working together with Scott Rothkopf in his new role and on our expanded mission for the Museum.”

Scott Rothkopf, presently Nancy and Steve Crown Family Curator and Associate Director of Programs, joined the Whitney as Curator in 2009. In his new role, he will oversee the curatorial department and exhibition activities, direct the growth and display of the collection, and shape the Whitney’s programmatic vision. Taking advantage of the Museum’s new and greatly increased indoor and outdoor spaces, he will oversee expanded visual,

Scott Rothkopf, The Whitney's new  Deputy Director for Programs and Chief Curator

Scott Rothkopf, The Whitney’s new Deputy Director for Programs and Chief Curator

performing, and media arts offerings as well as continue to organize exhibitions himself.

Rothkopf most recently served on the curatorial team responsible for the Whitney’s inaugural collection display America Is Hard to See. At the Whitney he has also curated Mary Heilmann: Sunset (2015), Jeff Koons: A Retrospective (2014), Sinister Pop (2012–13, with Donna De Salvo),Wade Guyton OS (2012–13), Glenn Ligon: AMERICA (2011), Singular Visions (2010, with Dana Miller), and Whitney on Site: Guyton\Walker (2010).

Prior to joining the Whitney, Rothkopf served as Senior Editor of Artforum International from 2004 through 2009, where he was a frequent contributor of feature reviews and essays. He began his curatorial career at the Harvard University Art Museums, organizing Mel Bochner: Photographs, 1966–1969 (2002) and Huyghe + Corbusier: Harvard Project (2004, with Linda Norden). He also served as a contributing curator to the Biennale de Lyon in 2007, for a project with Guyton.

Rothkopf has published widely on the work of contemporary artists, including Paul Chan, Diller and Scofidio, Carroll Dunham, Katharina Fritsch, Eva Hesse, Jasper Johns, Sol LeWitt, Roy Lichtenstein, Josiah McElheny, Takashi Murakami, Laura Owens, Elizabeth Peyton, James Rosenquist, Ed Ruscha, Paul Thek, Kelley Walker, T. J. Wilcox, Terry Winters, and Karen Kilimnik, who was the subject of his 2007 book, Period Eye: Karen Kilimnik’s Fancy Pictures, co-authored with Meredith Martin. He also served as editor of Yourself in the World (2011), a volume of the collected writings and interviews of Glenn Ligon.

Rothkopf is a member of the board of trustees of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, and has been a visiting critic at Hunter College, Yale University’s School of Art, and the University of Southern California, among many others. He has served on numerous juries, including those of the Deste Foundation and the American Academy in Rome. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in the history of art and architecture from Harvard University.

Rothkopf stated, “The Whitney has long been known as the artists’ museum, a reputation that captures our intimate and profound commitment to artists and their work. In our new home we will further develop our venturesome approach to challenging exhibitions, collection displays, and an innovative performance program, as well as create new connections among them. It is a great honor to be chosen to take this project forward and to expand on the extraordinary accomplishments of Donna De Salvo.”

In announcing the new positions, Weinberg stated, “The Whitney is poised to take on greater challenges and growing its leadership is essential to extending the Museum’s reach. No one is better prepared to take on the important work of redefining the Whitney’s role on the international stage than Donna De Salvo, whose experience, insight, and innovative thinking have been central to our move downtown. As can be seen in the presentation of the Whitney’s collection in our new home, led brilliantly by Donna, we are exploring as never before the layered, nuanced, and changing meanings of the term ‘American art’ within contemporary global culture. In her new role, Donna will build on that experimentation and thinking.

Scott Rothkopf has brought a singular combination of scholarship, critical acumen, and curatorial talent to the Whitney,” Weinberg continued. “His achievements over the past half-dozen years have been remarkable; his vision, inventiveness, and leadership abilities are manifest. We’re proud to welcome him as our new Deputy Director for Programs and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, charged with overseeing all facets of the Museum’s curatorial program. Scott’s enthusiasm, energy, and passion for the Whitney’s mission—with living artists at its core—make him the perfect choice to expand and enrich our curatorial offerings at this historic turning point for the Whitney. We are particularly grateful to our trustee Nancy Crown and her husband Steve for so generously endowing this position.