Whitney Biennial 2010 New York 1/2

(c) George Condo: 'Integrated Forms (Birnam Wood)', 2009, Oil and pastel on linen, 80 x 60 inches, 203.2 x 152.4 cm courtesy Skarstedt Gallery, NY

The Whitney Museum’s 75th anniversary Biennial in New York is the most important group show on (US) American art this year.


This time it is not a large-scale art spectacle. It appears to me pleasingly modest in size and very private in form.


The title is simply ‘2010’. The two curators, Francesco Bonami and Gary Carrion-Murayari, state in the catalogue, ‘Time is what makes shows different from one another.’


During earlier biennials, the top floor of the museum was used to show the permanent collection of the Whitney. This time, Mr. Bonami and Mr. Carrion-Murayari created a historical review of art from the collection bought after a biennial from 1932 on. I think this is a very successful approach to anchor this biennial within its predecessors.


It is interesting to see a well-established artist like George Condo, umong many newcomers to the Whitney Biennial: On the top floor with the sculpture ’The Butcher and His Wife’ and on the second floor with his great painting 'Integrated Forms (Birnam Wood)' of 2009.



Many artists reflect through their works life and politics of the past two years from a very personal point of view. I think subjectivity sometimes is the more credible objectivity anyway.



(c) Jessica Jackson Hutchins: 'Couch for a Long Time', 2009; couch, newspaper, ceramic;76x29x36'' / 193x74x90 cm; collection of the artist; photo credit Dan Kvita; courtesy by Small A Projects NY and Derek Eller Gallery NY

Jessica Jackson Hutchins covers her child-time sofa with newspaper clippings of President Obama and puts five ceramic objects on it.


(c) Nina Berman: 'Ty with a Gun' 2008 from 'Marine Wedding' 2006-8; pigment print 10 x 15'' / 24 x 38 cm; collection of the artist

Nina Berman shows the small scale photo series ‘Marine Wedding’. It is about a young Marine, Ty Ziegel, who was terribly injured by an Iraqi suicide bomber. He had to undergo numerous head surgeries and lost an arm. Having returned back home, he married his high-school-sweetheart. Ms. Berman documented this wedding for Life magazine. Unfortunately, the marriage did not last very long.


(c) Stefanie Sinclair: 'Self-Immolation in Afghanistan: A Cry for Help'; 2005; digital print; dimensions variable; collection of the artist; courtesy VII, New York

The private view on politics is not limited to the US: Stefanie Sinclair made a shocking photo series about young Afghan women, who survived their suicidal attempt to burn themselves. The artist says their suicidal motivation often derived from very young marriage and a lack of education.


The foreclosure of houses was another dominant issue in recent two years. It seems that is one reason why the curators put Maureen Galace and James Casabere into the show:


(c) Maureen Gallace: 'Cape Cod, Early September 2008'; oil on panel; 12 x 12 in./30,5 x 30,5 cm; collection of the artist

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