Home Magazine Main purposes of this Whitney Biennal 2019

Different kind of Biennals are springing up all over the world, and it appears clear that this fact it's having a huge impact on the art system. What we can do is follow step by step all of these mutations, in order to understand both positive and negative aspects. As we did for this Venice Biennal, deepen more inside the basic curatorial concepts of each Biennal, could offer an interesting key about the various methods and aims. 

While most of the current attention is focused on the political biennale “May you live an Interesting time” curated by Ralph Rugoff, on the other side of the ocean is starting the seventy-ninth series of exhibitions launched by the Museum’s funder, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, in 1932. Indeed, running from May 17 until September 22, the 2019 Whitney Biennal is ready to present works of seventy five artists, selected after more than 300 studio visit made over the past year and a half, by the two Whitney curators Jane Paletta and Rujeko Hockley. Don't miss our beautiful article on 51 Most Popular Contemporary Artists!

But what will really happen this year? What we can expect from this edition? To figure out the main purposes of this huge manifestation, we selected some statements by the principal players…

Jane Paletta | Whitney Curator

Ru and I especially focused on emerging artists and firs time Biennal participants: approximately seventy-five percent of the artists in the show are under forty and only five have previously appeared in a Whitney Biennal. In part, this emphasis resulted from what we saw during our research across there U.S.,as we were struck by the profound difficulties of our current moment and the ways in which so many artists we encountered are struggling and facing fewer opportunities to present their work publicly. Various che of artist that could speck about our current visiting time. 


Rujeko Hockley (left) and Jane Panetta (right). Photograph by Scott Rudd.


Rujeko Hockley | Whitney Curator

Although intentionally broad in scope, the exhibition explores key themes, including the mining of history in order to reimagine the present or future, a profound and sustained consideration of questions of equity along financial, racial, and sexual lines, a concern with climate change, and explorations of the vulnerability of the body. Artist in the exhibition are engaged with notions of what community means and can provide while using art to confront and cope with our current world. 


Brendan Fernandes, The Master and Form, 2018. Performance view, Graham Foundation, Chicago, IL, 2018.
Image courtesy the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago. Photograph by Brendan Leo Merea


Marlon Mullen (1963-), Untitled, 2018. Acrylic on canvas, 40 × 52 in. (101.6 × 132.1 cm). I
mage courtesy NIAD Art Center, Richmond, CA; Adams and Ollman, Portland; and JTT, New York


Adam D. Weinberg | Alice Pratt Brown Director 

Taking the pulse of American creativity and culture, the Whitney Biennal has been finding the future of contemporary art for nearly a century. The Biennal is an essential strand of the Museum's DNA, a chance to reaffirm in a cultural dialogue about what contemporary art is and why it matters. 


Scott Rothkopf Senior Deputy Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator

Jane and Ru have gathered an extraordinary group of artists to create a show that will feel extremely timely. Much of the works has an intensely personal and even a deliberately handmade quality, which will be amplified through a strong presence of live performance. In addition, the exhibition's galleries will emphasize groupings of artists rather than monographic installations, to create poetic - and at times pointed - conversation among their works. 

Cover images: Steffani Jemison,Sensus Plenior, 2017. High-definition video, black-and-white, sound; 34:36 min. Image courtesy the artist. 


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