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Whitney Biennial

March 17- June 11, 2017

With a history of exhibiting the most promising and influential artists and provoking intense debate, the Whitney Biennial—the Museum’s signature exhibition—is the most important survey of the state of contemporary art in the United States. The Biennial, an invitational show of work produced in the preceding two years, was introduced by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1932, and it is the only continuous series of exhibitions in the country to survey recent developments in American art.

This will be the first presentation of the Biennial in the Whitney’s new downtown building and it will be curated by Whitney associate curator Christopher Y. Lew and independent curator Mia Locks.

CALDER: HYPERMOBILITY

June 9–October 16, 2017

Calder: Hypermobility focuses on the extraordinary breadth of movement and sound in the work of Alexander Calder. This exhibition brings together a rich constellation of key sculptures and provides a rare opportunity to experience the works as the artist intended—in motion. Regular activations will occur in the galleries, revealing the inherent kinetic nature of Calder’s work, as well as its relationship to performance and the theatrical stage. Influenced in part by the artist’s fascination and engagement with choreography, Calder’s sculptures contain an embedded performativity that is reflected in their idiosyncratic motions and the perceptual responses they provoke. 

The exhibition is organized by Jay Sanders, Engell Speyer Family Curator and Curator of Performance, with Greta Hartenstein, senior curatorial assistant, and Melinda Lang, curatorial assistant.

HÉLIO OITICICA: TO ORGANIZE DELIRIUM

July 14–October 1, 2017

Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium is the first full-scale retrospective in the U.S. of the Brazilian artist’s work. One of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Oiticica’s early work began with formal, geometric investigations in painting and drawing and soon moved into large scale “spatial reliefs.” For the artist, these works were completed only when viewers interacted with them. That aim reached fruition as his career advanced and his work took on an increasingly immersive nature, transforming the viewer from a spectator to an active participant. The exhibition will include some of these large scale installations, including Tropicalia and Eden. Oiticica spent a formative time in New York in the 1970s, engaging with the city and other artists, and extended his work into filmmaking, slide show environments, and concrete poetry before returning to Brazil. 

To Organize Delirium is organized by Elisabeth Sussman, Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography; Donna De Salvo, Deputy Director for International Initiatives and Senior Curator; Lynn Zelevansky, The Henry J. Heinz II Director of Carnegie Museum of Art; and James Rondeau, the President and Eloise W. Martin Director of the Art Institute of Chicago.

BUNNY ROGERS

Summer 2017

In her work, Bunny Rogers draws from a personal cosmology to explore universal experiences of loss, alienation, and a search for belonging. Her layered installations, videos, and sculptures begin with wide-ranging yet highly specific references, from young-adult fiction and early 2000s cartoons, like Clone High, to autobiographical events and violent media spectacles, such as the 1999 Columbine High School shooting. Rogers’s techniques are equally idiosyncratic. She borrows from theater costuming, design, and industrial furniture manufacturing, and often crafts her work by hand. This hybrid approach gives Rogers’s objects and spaces a distinct texture; they read simultaneously as slick and intimate, highly constructed but also sincere.

This exhibition is organized by assistant curator Elisabeth Sherman and curatorial assistant Margaret Kross.

JIMMIE DURHAM: AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD

November 3, 2017–January 28, 2018

Artist and activist Jimmie Durham, who is of Cherokee heritage, has worked as a sculptor, performer, essayist, and poet for more than thirty years. Durham was a political organizer for the American Indian Movement during the 1970s,  but by 1987 he decided to live in self-imposed exile, settling first in Mexico, then in Europe in 1994. Much of his later work combines found and constructed elements with text to expose Western-centric views and prejudices hidden in language, objects, and institutions. Often considered an extension of his political activism, Durham’s art is critical in its analysis of society and oftentimes mockingly ironic in the broad spectrum of his artistic expression.

Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World was organized by the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and curated by Anne Ellegood, senior curator, with MacKenzie Stevens, curatorial assistant. The Whitney’s presentation is organized by Elisabeth Sussman, Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography. 

LAURA OWENS

November 2017–February 2018

For more than twenty years, Los Angeles–based artist Laura Owens has pioneered an innovative—and at times controversial—approach to painting that has made her one of the most influential artists of her generation. Her bold and experimental work challenges traditional assumptions about figuration and abstraction, as well as the relationships among avant-garde art, craft, pop culture, and technology. More recently, she has charted a dramatic transformation in her work, marshaling all of her previous interests and talents within large-scale paintings that make virtuosic use of silkscreen, computer manipulation, digital printing, and material exploration. This mid-career survey, the most comprehensive of Owens’s work to-date, will feature approximately 60 paintings from the mid-1990s until today, as well as custom-printed wallpaper and artist’s books made specifically for the show. The exhibition will highlight her significant strides over the past few years, showing how the early work sets the stage for gripping new paintings and installations.

This exhibition is organized by Scott Rothkopf, Deputy Director for Programs and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator.

David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night

Summer 2018

This exhibition will be the first major, monographic presentation of the work of David Wojnarowicz (1954–1992) in over a decade. Wojnarowicz came to prominence in the East Village art world of the 1980s, actively embracing all media and forging an expansive range of work both fiercely political and highly personal. Although largely self-taught, he worked as an artist and writer to meld a sophisticated combination of found and discarded materials with an uncanny understanding of literary influences. First displayed in raw storefront galleries, his work achieved national prominence at the same moment that the AIDS epidemic was cutting down a generation of artists, himself included. This presentation will draw upon recently-available scholarly resources and the Whitney’s extensive holdings of Wojnarowicz’s work.

David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake At Night is co-curated by David Kiehl, Curator Emeritus, and David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of the Collection.