Friday, June 13, 2014

Michelle Grabner's Floor of the Whitney Biennial

I was so excited to go see the Whitney Biennial when I was in New York last month. I've never been, and it's the last one they'll be having in the old museum before relocating the whole Whitney shebang downtown next year. The way it was set up--and I gather this was new for this exhibition--was that there were three curators and each one got a floor (plus additional spaces like stairwells, elevators, courtyards, etc.). So I went through the first floor and it was...fine. Lots of good art of course, but nothing that particularly struck my fancy. I went up to the next floor and...same thing. Naturally all very accomplished work, but nothing was really speaking to me. Gosh, I thought, am I just not in a good looking-at-art frame-of-mind today? What's wrong with me that I'm not enjoying this more? And then I got to the third floor and--whoa mama! suddenly everything changed. This floor was spectacular. Full of color and bold shapes and abstract paintings and intriguing three-dimensional pieces. I quite literally loved almost every single work of art on display. Everything was just the right shape for the art receptors in my personal weird brain. So I went and read some wall text (something I generally try to avoid doing) and discovered that this was the area curated by Michelle Grabner. Was it a coincidence that the collection I adored was the one assembled by the only woman curator of the three? And that nearly all my favorite pieces there were by women artists? I think maybe I'll just leave those questions open.

(Do note that my phone photography is not remotely doing justice to the brightness of the color palette in many of these works. Alas.)

Above, my favorite piece of all (I think! It's so hard to choose!) by Amy Sillman

Shio Kusaka

Joel Otterson

Sheila Hicks

 John Mason

  Louise Fishman

Suzanne McClelland

Dona Nelson

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