Molly Zuckerman-Hartung is a Chicago-based painter, teacher, and author of “The 95 Theses on Painting.” Her work reflects a deep engagement with process, material, and with painting’s long history. Her abstract paintings often extend above the surface and outside the frame, via pooled enamel, collaged images, or sewn fabric, as in her painting “Notley”, currently on display in the Whitney Biennial.
Adam Weinberg, the director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, was candid in his opening day remarks when he commented that the Biennial had in the past been thought of — or was criticized for not being — a representative snapshot of American art.
Whitney Biennial curator Anthony Elms took on the nebulous meaning of “American art” most directly in his selections, but the results don’t really say a lot about what it means to be American — at least not in a way that makes it distinct from Canadian, Australian, Argentinean, or some other national identity forged in the modern era by immigration, capitalism, environmental devastation, and a displacement of indigenous cultures.
On the third floor, 2014 Whitney Biennial curator Stuart Comer professed to “provide a kaleidoscopic glimpse of this historic moment,” emphasizing work that seemed in flux and in transition from one medium to another, one state to another, or even across borders and identities.
The 2014 Whitney Biennial has many things: oversized ceramics, big abstract and figurative paintings, experimental jazz, videos of people having sex, and bead curtains. What it doesn’t have all that much of is politics.
During the opening remarks for the 2014 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Chief Curator Donna de Salvo said that this year’s exhibition was “one biennial with three distinct points of view,” so we’ve decided to explore that diversity in perspectives with three separate photo essays of the Biennial — one per floor and curator.
Lest we get too excited about what the museum is billing on its website as “one of the broadest and most diverse takes on art in the United States that the Whitney has offered in many years,” let’s look at some numbers.
CHICAGO — The 2014 Whitney Biennial won’t be like every biennial before it. The always anticipated art world event will partly be a response to the Occupy movement’s call to end the Whitney Biennial, which charged that the major exhibition was just another art world commercial interest, and it will also be a swan song to the Whitney’s longtime home in the Marcel Breuer building, but many people may not realize that the event will also be different as it will welcome a Chicago curatorial approach into the mix, and that’s very exciting.