First Look

2017 Whitney Biennial

Conflict, political fractiousness, and social unease pervade this year’s Whitney Biennial, the first in the museum’s two-year-old Renzo Piano-designed building in Manhattan. The curators, Christopher Y. Lew and Mia Locks, pick up on contemporary American agita with work by 62 artists and collectives in mediums ranging from 3-D video to a noteworthy amount of painting. (A particularly violent virtual reality work by Jordan Wolfson left one of this magazine’s editors a bit traumatized.) Below, we present a few highlights from the exhibition, which opens on March 17 and runs through June 11.

(Kerstin Brätsch and Debo Eilers)

“Serene” (2017)
Resin, enamel, pigment, various materials

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer

“Closing Party (Hit the North)” (2016)
Oil on canvas

Kaari Upson

“Snag” (2017)
Urethane, pigment, aluminum

Asad Raza

“Root Sequence, Mother Tongue” (2017)
Twenty-six trees, UV lighting, customized scents, carpet, cabinet with possessions of caretakers

Pope.L aka William Pope.L

“Claim (Whitney Version)” (2017)
Acrylic paint, graphite pencil, pushpins, wood, framed document, fortified wine, bologna with black-and-while photocopy portraits

Pope.L aka William Pope.L

Detail of “Claim (Whitney Version)”

Jon Kessler

“Exodus” (2016)
Trunk, wood, aluminum, rubber wheels, found figurines, iPhone with selfie stick, LCD screen, motor

Dana Schutz

Detail from “Shame” (2017)
Oil on canvas

Dana Schutz

Detail from “Elevator” (2017)
Oil on canvas

Raúl de Nieves

Foreground: “UUU MEE” (2015-16)
Beads, artist-worn shoe, glue, fiberglass

Raúl de Nieves

At left: “Man’s Best Friend” (2016)
Yarn, fabric, glue, beads, cardboard, found trim, mannequin

At right: “The longer I slip into a crack the shorter my nose becomes” (2016)
Yarn, dress, glue, beads, cardboard, found trip, apple, taxidermic bird, mannequin

Raúl de Nieves

“Beginning & end neither & the otherwise betwixt & between the end is the beginning & the end” (2016)
Paper, wood, glue, acetate, tape, beads

John Divola

“Abandoned Painting H” (2007)
Inkjet print of a photo showing an abandoned student artwork hung in an abandoned building

Julien Nguyen

“Executive Function” (2017)
Oil and encaustic on linen-mounted panel

Jessi Reaves

“Bucket Chair with Covers” (2017)
Wood, metal frame, sawdust, wood glue, foam, ink on polyurethane foam painted by Sophie Stone, coated woven sisal, leather, silk, polyester, thread

Frances Stark

“Ian F. Svenonius’s Censorship Now for the Whitney Biennial 2017, Spread 3 of 8 (pp. 16-17) (the state, like a a rampaging mob boss)” (2017)
Gesso, ink, oil, acrylic on canvas

Carrie Moyer

“Candy Cap” (2016)
Acrylic, glitter, vinyl paint on canvas

Torey Thornton

“What Is Sexuality, Is the Scale Infinite Similar to a Line” (2017)
Acrylic paint, metallic paint, copper wire, galvanized steel wire, aluminum military dog tags, plexiglass on cotton and foam with wood frame

Torey Thornton

Detail of “What Is Sexuality…”

Installation View

Background: Occupy Museums
“Debtfair” (2017)
Thirty artworks and interactive website

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