Monday, March 10, 2014

Whitney Highlights 2014

So remember how I said the Armory was apparently a place to 'be seen'?  Well if that's true then the Whitney Biennial on opening day is the place to make a scene and be seen.  

We went over after the Armory because the timing was right.  On the first two floors I was filled with an overwhelming sense of my own mortality.  Dark I know.  But let me explain.  Everyone was outfitted and acting more outlandish than the next person.  No one was taking in any of the work, partly because it was unnecessarily esoteric but also because that didn't seem to be many people's goal.  The self-consciousness was audible as people swaggered into each other around a corner, their coolness too big to contain in the tiny space afforded by the insanely crowded spaces.

  At one point I heard a man say, "Contemporary artists' intent is to be different, first and foremost."  Usually I could make an argument against that but in this context it felt spot on.  Things were trying so hard to be of the moment, painfully aware of themselves.  It was like the feeling I get looking at a candid old photograph.  You can study the vitality of the people in the photo and simultaneously be aware that all that life and energy is gone from the world. That's how it felt, that all this art would pass and all these people would die, including myself and I was feeling the need to get the hell out of there.

But then...I made it to the fourth floor.  

Amy Sillman and Pam Lins

left: Amy Sillman, right: Joel Otterson

left: back of Sillman/Lins collaboration, right: Dona Nelson

Sterling Ruby

left: Sterling Ruby, Sheila Hicks, right: Molly Zuckerman-Hartung

Shio Kusaka

Shio Kusaka

Hallelujah.  Suddenly life was being lived again, not looking at itself being lived.  Things were fun and visual and wonderful.  And the people all made sense with their crazy outfits in this context.  The overarching attitude was playful and curious which couched the difficult questions about form and color and scale the artists were asking of their work in a comprehensible way.  The resulting 'freshness felt authentic to the making of the work.  I know some people will adamantly disagree with me, but hell this is my blog right?  This is how I like my art.  It felt like it was made in the moment, not thinking about the moment.  So my advice (with the exception of the Rebecca Morris paintings on 2) is race upstairs quick as you can.


Peggi Kroll-Roberts said...

I love your blog and always look forward to your next post. You are one of my touchstones!
Thanks for all the great posts!

Aubrey Levinthal said...

Thanks Peggi! Appreciate it.

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