Artists: Alma Allen, Darren Bader, Gretchen Bender, Stephen Berens, Dawoud Bey, Jennifer Bornstein, Sarah Charlesworth, Critical Practices Inc, Matthew Delege, David Diao, Paul Druecke, Rochelle Feinstein, Louise Fishman, Victoria Fu; Gaylen Gerber with Sherrie Levine, David Hammons, and Trevor Shimizu; Jeff Gibson, Karl Haendel, Philip Hanson, Jonn Herschend, Sheila Hicks, HOWDOYOUSAYYAMINAFRICAN?, Jacqueline Humphries, Doug Ischar, Alex Jovanovich, Ben Kinmont, Shio Kusaka, Chris Larson, Diego Leclery, Tony Lewis, Pam Lins, Ken Lum, Shana Lutker, John Mason, Suzanne McClelland, Joshua Mosley, Dona Nelson, Joel Otterson, Laura Owens, Sara Greenberger Rafferty, David Robbins, Sterling Ruby, Peter Schuyff, Amy Sillman, Emily Sundblad, Ricky Swallow, Tony Tasset, Philip Vanderhyden, Pedro Vélez, David Foster Wallace, Dan Walsh, Donelle Woolford, Molly Zuckerman-Hartung
Venue: Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Curator: Michelle Grabner
Date: March 7 – May 25, 2014
Full gallery of videos, images, press release and link available after the jump.
David Robbins, Public Service Announcement (Independent Imagination), 2013. Video, color; 1 minute, 10 seconds. Collection of the artist.
David Robbins, Television Commercial for The Poor Farm, 2013. Video, color; 1 minute. Collection of the artist.
David Robbins, Television Commercial (Gavin Brown at The Green Gallery), 2013. Video, color; 57 seconds. Collection of the artist.
David Robbins, Television Commercial for The Suburban, 2010. Video, color; 45 seconds. Collection of the artist.
Joshua Mosley, excerpt from Jeu de Paume, 2014. Stop-motion animation, color, sound. 3 minutes. Collection of the artist. Courtesy of Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago.
Doug Ischar, excerpt from Alone With You, 2011. Video, color, sound. 18 minutes.
Videos courtesy of the artists and the Whitney Museum, New York. Photos by Contemporary Art Daily.
Michelle Grabner, who is a painter and a professor, has said that she considered the job of organizing the Biennial as being more “curriculum building” than curating. What would be the most illuminating, edifying, and pleasurable collection of objects and ideas for other artists, herself included, to see gathered together in 2014? What would most compel an audience to draw creative connections and think critically about both the work and the time in which we live? Perhaps as a result of her quasi-pedagogical approach, her section of the Biennial reflects a driving urge to share, and she has included a relatively large number of artists.
Grabner’s curatorial contribution explores the ways that—in an age in which cultural material is constantly being sampled and remixed—answers to questions of who is the artist, the author, or the maker are shifting and variable. Gaylen Gerber’s gray backdrop, for example, acts as both parasite and host for the paintings on its surface while creating a new critical context for them. Works on this floor address these questions in a variety of ways: Ben Kinmont’s interactive archive hinges on audience participation; a monumental wall sculpture by the late Gretchen Bender has been faithfully remade by Philip Vanderhyden; and the project of Donelle Woolford radically calls into question the very identity of the artist.
Painting also figures prominently here—in particular, large-scale abstraction by women artists. In the United States, big-brush expressionism has historically been associated with a kind of heroic masculinity. But as painter Amy Sillman (whose work is included here) has written: “Many artists—not least of them woman and queers—are currently recomplicating the terrain of gestural, messy, physical, chromatic, embodied, handmade practices.” Grabner has included a group of ambitious paintings by women of different generations, demonstrating that this “recomplicating” has resulted in paintings that subvert the tradition of painting in ways that may be personal, funny, perverse, or metaphysical.
Many works on this floor reflect Grabner’s commitment to making and materiality. Sheila Hicks’s monumental textiles; Sterling Ruby’s appealingly abject ceramic basins; Joel Otterson’s kitschy constructions of found objects; Peter Schuyff’s carved pencils; Alma Allen’s idiosyncratic combinations of manmade and natural materials: these are among the works that contribute to Grabner’s deep enthusiasm not just for art but for the daily work of artists—often over the course of long careers.
Grabner’s section of the Biennial extends beyond the fourth floor to other places within the Museum, offsite locations, and screenings.
Michelle Grabner is a professor in the painting and drawing department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Along with her husband, Brad Killam, she founded two artist-project spaces, The Suburban in Oak Park, Illinois, and The Poor Farm in rural northeastern Wisconsin.