Like a sad, jilted date, this year’s recently closed Whitney Biennial was left without director, actor, musician and all-around creepster Vincent Gallo’s promised film, entitled ironically Promises Written in Water. And apparently, Gallo didn’t even call.
Fashion as a basis for genuine artistic work may be dead. Even when it’s properly approached and used, as in Cindy Sherman’s fashion editorial series or the early installations of artists-cum-couturiers Zowie Broach and Brian Kirkby under the Boudicca label, I tend to find that the medium isn’t being mined for all its potential. Photographer K8 Hardy’s “Untitled Runway Show,” a performance piece mounted on May 20 as part of her work in the Whitney Biennial, seems to have proven that in the hands of popular contemporary artists, fashion in a museum can be as nauseating as the debauchery on display at Fashion’s Night Out.
Talk about art going big: the New York Times reported last night that the Whitney will mount an enormous Jeff Koons retrospective as its last hurrah in the Breuer building, before moving downtown in 2015. Probably out of necessity as much as for flair, the exhibition will take over the entire museum except for the fifth-floor permanent galleries — the first time the Whitney has given over that much space to one artist.
PARIS — In a recent article on AFC, Paddy Johnson argues that Werner Herzog’s piece in this year’s Whitney Biennial is essentially a throwaway. She sees Herzog’s contribution as a quick fix for inclusion that relies mainly on “bells and whistles” rather than substance. But her account is conspicuously reactionary and seems to be more of a response to the glowing reviews of the art writers she quotes than to Herzog’s work itself.
Forrest Bess was born in Bay City, Texas on October 5, 1911, one year before Agnes Martin (1912-2004) and Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) joined him on this planet. Martin’s entry point was Macklin, Saskatchewan; Pollock’s was Cody, Wyoming. Martin and Pollock moved to New York in order to study, and left in order to preserve themselves. Both made the paintings by which they became famous after leaving New York.
To walk into the artist Robert Gober’s installation of paintings, photographs and writings by Forrest Bess — a visionary painter and self-described, self-surgically-altered “pseudo-hermaphrodite” — was to encounter art frontloaded with (as the reader put it) “cultural significance while also being visually intoxicating, or mesmerizing, you can choose a description.”
I left the 2012 Whitney Biennial with a feeling of leadenness that no amount of free coffee (available at Monday’s press preview, and many thanks for that) or Werner Herzog’s video ode to beauty (“Hearsay of the Soul,” 2012) could alleviate.
Art lovers in attendance at last night’s conversation with Werner Herzog at the New York Public Library were fortunate enough to hear a little of the backstory behind Herzog’s participation in this year’s Whitney Biennial. The inclusion of the celebrated filmmaker in the exhibition took many art-worlders by surprise when the list of participants was announced in December.
Tonight’s Whitney Biennial VIP Party brought together two sectors of the art world that continue to butt heads in this post-Occupy Wall Street world. Chic art world partygoers were lined up on Madison Avenue waiting to drink champagne at the Sotheby’s-sponsored Biennial, while a few dozen protesters and an inflatable cat were bringing attention to the museum’s association with the auction house that has locked out union art handlers since early August.
First Sotheby’s, and now the Whitney. While the Teamsters of Local 814 have been fighting with Sotheby’s since August for a better contract, a new labor dispute has cropped up for the art handlers of Local 966 that work at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Gallerist NY got a hold of a leaked version of the 2012 Whitney Biennial artist list and they’ve posted it online. There’s no big surprises here.