New York Travel: Whitney Museum of American Art – The Whitney Biennial (May 17–Sep 22, 2019)

The Whitney Museum of American Art, known informally as the “Whitney”, is an art museum in Manhattan. It was founded in 1930 by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, a wealthy and prominent American socialite and art patron after whom it is named.
The Whitney Biennial is an unmissable event for anyone interested in finding out what’s happening in art today. Curators Jane Panetta and Rujeko Hockley have been visiting artists over the past year in search of the most important and relevant work. Featuring seventy-five artists and collectives working in painting, sculpture, installation, film and video, photography, performance, and sound, the 2019 Biennial takes the pulse of the contemporary artistic moment. Introduced by the Museum’s founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1932, the Biennial is the longest-running exhibition in the country to chart the latest developments in American art.
Check out, Iman Issa’s series Heritage Studies. It is based on objects the artist has encountered in museums around the world, typically those devoted to archaeology and ethnography. Made of materials such as painted wood, copper, and brass, the resulting works typically do not resemble the objects that inspired them; instead they take on new forms that probe the contemporary resonance of their sources. The sculptures are accompanied by didactic texts that draw on the conventions of museum labels while further highlighting the relevance of the historical objects to the present.

I also enjoyed, Nicole Eisenman’s sculptural ensemble Procession. We view the downtrodden and how they carry on and move forward. For the artist this tension poses questions about what it looks like to be disenfranchised, but also part of a community, and about how to protest when protests feel like a constant cycle. Eisenman often combines traditional materials such as bronze and plaster with foam, sneakers, clothing, fog machines, and fountains that hint at bodily realities that sculpture has traditionally worked to transcend. Ultimately Eisenman seeks to pull the viewer into her mirrored view of the world, which she has created as a means of carefully examining our own.

Procession also features a live video feed of the Museum’s eighth-floor gallery where Gamma Delta (1959–60) by Morris Louis is on view as part of the exhibition Spilling Over: Painting Color in the 1960s. The video presents a thermal mapping of the gallery overlaid with an animation. Museums and art institutions have often been characterized as secular temples dedicated to the vision of the historically male “genius.” In the video feed Eisenman subverts the sanctity of that space and questions the cultural framework that has been built up around such places.
Hot Tips: Try to get the museum first thing in the morning when it opens. The lines tend to get long and busy. After you visit walk along the High Line for some great shots of NYC and the Whitney from the outside.
I also enjoy starting at the top floor at the museum and working my way down using the stairs. You miss a lot of the crowds that way.
Don’t forget to check out the terrace and have a coffee in their café. These visits only add to the experience at the Whitney. Take your time, there is no rush. The Whitney is pretty epic!
Make sure you put the Whitney Museum of American Art on your schedule when you next visit New York.

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