The Whitney Biennale

Mostly conservative, mostly concerned with issues of representation, mostly about things on walls, with some installations and films to balance things out. Refreshing in how old fashioned it is, and in many ways, interesting in how it tackles questions of beauty, and the place of it. Lots of things there because they are skillful or well crafted.

The stuff that could be considered subversive may be here, but are muted, or even emasculated. No Paul McCarthy’s perversion of Disney anamontirics but black drawings on white paper, no Catherine Opie photos of dykes and their place in the SoCal milieu, amongst freeways and palm trees but her Minnesota ice houses. Jack Pierson has been doing radical things with vitrines and assemblage, even his found signs are strange and beautiful–what do we have instead, his Bruce of LA cheesecake. They even have David Hockney and his middle aged drawings of real estate.

The problem is that the best/most interesting work lately has been the reclamation of conservative crafting, not only drawing and painting but crochet and knitting for example…maybe we have reached the limits or reductionist aesthetics and polemicist politics, and are now finding deep joy in Monkeys (Laura Owens gorgeous large scale water colours) and Royalty (Liz Peyton).

(another thought: there is a constant movement to bring film and photography into the fold, and to reward people who make both, perhaps this is the end of the struggle between those who paint and those who take pictures)