Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Whitney Biennial is Horrible!

Georgia Sagri
Why?  Because at some point last century museums, dealers, collectors, curators, critics, and artists had caught on to the idea that what will be considered good art in the future is often mistaken as bad art in the time of its creation.  What better explanation is there for the deplorable art exhibited at the 2012 Whitney Biennial.  As I walked through the exhibition I couldn't help but to think of messy art students piecing together scraps of garbage while hyped up on ideas their professors poured into their heads about how the art-object is a relic.  From what other point of view could a major American art museum put together such a crappy exhibition?  There is so much amazing art being created in America that you'd think The Whitney wouldn't have a problem using its resources and influence more effectively.  Artists like myself would jump at the chance to have a show there.  So why show such crap!  I think the people running the Whitney are too afraid to say: "no... this art just isn't as developed as we'd prefer it to be," or "no way... I can appreciate the risk taking inherent in this work, but its too scattered to have any affect whatsoever on the audience".   Their afraid to say "no" because they don't have the slightest clue what art is good.  And so I'm sure that in these murky waters of contemporary art where turds can be considered art, the Whitney "high-ups" are willingly persuaded by curators into believing that the most amateurish and vile stuff being made in art schools today like Hunter College will be valued highly by future generations.  I always tell my students that all you need to do to be a successful artist is to be able to write a good artist statement.  And the Whitney is a perfect example of this... there are very few pieces in the exhibition that have any inherent aesthetic value... while most of the show is conceptually based with an emphasis on performance, video, and installation.

Georgia Sagri

The first artists work that I saw was Georgia Sagri's performance and installation, which pretty much set the stage for my experience of the entire exhibition.  After a few minutes I had no doubt that I was witnessing a personal cathartic experience of her's in public.  I went to psychotherapy for 4 years and did this kind of stuff behind closed doors... but when she really started freaking out and yelling I didn't have any desire to see it being performed as art.  I was embarrassed for her.

Nicole Eisenman

I was curious to see Nicole Eisenman's forty five monotypes.  She's a "bad art" artist that I compare to George Condo.  I don't connect what so ever to Nicole's art... but I must say that it was a pleasant relief to see some painting, especially because a series of many works exhibited all together.

Forest Bess

Matt Hoyt

The best works in the show are Forest Bess' and Matt Hoyt's.  But wait a second... is Forest Bess considered the artist or Robert Gober?  Gober curated the dead artists work in the show just as Nick Mauss' installation contained a Marsden Hartley.  So I guess that I liked Gober's installation?  (Ya know, I get it... "the curator as artist"... good for you Gober!)  The reason why Matt's mini sculptures were wonderful to look at is because they stopped you for a moment and gave your imagination the chance to flutter a bit in a sea of incoherence.  I also liked the two altered weed trimmers of Michael E. Smith.  They reminded me of Forest Besses Work.  I was a little turned off after I read that oatmeal had been used on the surface of the sculptures... what about all the starving children in Africa!  I also have to give Tom Thayer a shout out, who was performing with another artist when I saw the Biennial earlier today.  His installation reminded me of the art I used to do.  The only criticism/question I have for Tom, is how the heck can you sit in that cramped up space with all that noise and flickering projected images and not have a seizure?

Michael E. Smith

Tom Thayer
Here is a thread from Facebook you might find interesting...

Facebook Friend:
I can't really see how you feel justified in tearing into the art represented in this show; especially based on the pictures that you posted. And, you have to feel some sort of irony in claiming: "As I walked through the exhibition I couldn't help but to think of messy art students piecing together scraps of garbage while hyped up on ideas their professors poured into their heads about how the art-object is a relic." -- when you have a B.F.A. that I'm sure entailed much of the same "hyped-up" ideas that continue to influence your own art + and your blog is dedicated to emerging art?...I'm curious why this show elicited such a negative and spiteful critique from you?

Daniel Galas:
I'm glad to her your criticism of my criticism. Let it be known that being a drawer and painter myself I can appreciate all the art in the show... but yeah, I don't like 95% of it. The Biennial is supposed to be a survey of American art, yet exhibition after exhibition The Whitney focuses on conceptual, performance, installation, and video art. What about all the awesome painters, sculptors, photographers, portrait artists... they choose to show the one kind of art that no one can understand unless they spend 4 years in art school. Most of these artists, seem overly self conscious that they're living in 2012 and are suppose to be creating work that pushes the "boundries"... thats just old news... what boundries are left to be overcome?  I want to see authentic art, not strategic art. 
In regards to your reference to my BFA... artists can and should be educated. It just so happens that I lucked out and had Alberto Rey as my professor. He didn't put up with crap and I understand why.  I also understand why artists create the kinds of work that is exhibited in this show... but its just so predictable (maybe thats The Whitney's fault).  Sure, I earned a BFA and MA but I expect The Whitney to show art that goes beyond steriotypical student work... its just not original or interesting. 
It would be so much better if The Whitney diversified the art they exhibit at the Biennial. That way you can see Conceptual art next to Landscape Paintings, next to Minimalist sculpture, next to Abstract works, next to... etc. and each can give us insight into the other.  By mainly showing one kind of art they back themselves into a corner and reveal their one track mind of  American Art, when who knows where the hell its headed!

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