The Whitney Biennial 2014 – A Little Rough with a Few Gems

Image of the people walking around, admiring the artwork at the Whitney Biennial

The Whitney Biennial 2014, for which the museum's curators, or guest curators, attempt in one fell swoop to deliver a definitive snapshot of what is happening NOW in contemporary art in NYC and beyond, is always one of the most talked-about and hashed-over exhibitions of the year, for fairly obvious reasons.

No one ever likes everything, of course, and some years the critics can be particularly harsh about inclusions and exclusions. But whether praised or chided, everyone goes, and since this, the 77th iteration of the museum's signature show, will be the last one installed and hung in the distinctive Breuer Building on Madison Avenue, it seems even more of a must-see than usual.

Man standing in front of a giant painting with the word "NO" on it at the Whitney Biennial

So Many NYC Art Shows

I went to the Whitney Biennial 2014 last week, and maybe I was simply burnt out from seeing 14,000 works of art at all the Armory Show fairs recently, but this year's show left me underwhelmed. That doesn't mean you shouldn't go! For 1) what do I know? and 2) with works by more than 100 different artists sprawled across three floors (and spilling into the stairwells), even if you only like a quarter of the pieces on display, that is still more subjectively good contemporary art than you'll find in most American cities, much less single museum exhibitions. So, please do check it out and let us know your opininon.  But here's more of mine for now!

Man in a red jacket walks by a large grey and yellow wall filled with artwork by Karl Haendel at the Whitney Biennial

Artwork With Plenty of Different Perspectives

The gimmick this time out was to hand over the picking-and-choosing duties to three different curators, with three different backgrounds and, presumably, unique perspectives on what's most exciting, most representative, right now. There were a number of works on all three floors that made me smile, made me think, or just stopped me dead in my tracks. I liked Bjarne Melgaard insane and somewhat erotic "pillow lounge" installation, for example, and Terry Adkins' "sculpted songs" shooting out high over a gallery on the second floor, pictured at top.  

At the Whitney Biennial, Peter Schuyff has this installation of hundreds of carved pencils in a display case

A Few Of Our Favorite Pieces

There were other bright spots in this year's Whitney Biennial. Peter Schuyff's display of hundreds of carved pencils (above) had an obsessive quality that always appeals to me. Lisa Anne Aurabach's topically-themed ugly sweaters made me chuckle. Zoe Leonard's simple transformation of an entire gallery, one of the ones with the building's quirkily-shaped windows, into a giant camera obscura, is so beautiful and quiet that it makes you wonder why no one thought of it before. Plenty of other things also caught my eye, but I think I'll return in a few weeks, when I'm more art-rested, and take another look around.  

A large wall stuffed with different colorful paintings at the Whitney

More Information: The Whitney Biennial 2014

The Whitney Biennial 2014 runs through May 25. The Whitney Museum is located on Madison Avenue and 75th Street, and is open Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and on Friday from 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

A white table with different shapes and size of pottery

Have you seen the Whitney Biennial this year (or in year's past)? If so, what did you think?

Posted in NYC Events | Tagged