Whitney Biennial 2017

Solo en Inglès

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer (b. 1979), St. Tammany Parish, 2016. Oil on canvas, 60 × 48 in. (152.4 × 121.9 cm). Collection of Vinny Dotolo and Sarah Hendler; courtesy the artist and Mier Gallery, Los Angeles

Narrator: In the largest canvas on view here, Celeste Dupuy-Spencer has painted a wall with a group of frames hanging on it. One, in the upper right, pictures the Lincoln Brigade—American soldiers who idealistically volunteered to fight Franco during the Spanish Civil War. Nearby, there’s an image of Picasso’s Guernica, a response to Franco’s atrocities against civilians. Another frame contains a newspaper reporting on the refusal of Muhammad Ali—then known as Cassius Clay—to fight in Vietnam.

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer: The title of the piece is Veteran’s Day. I was thinking about basically people who picked up arms in whatever capacity. Who put themselves on the line to fight against brutality and to fight in the most simplistic, idealistic way. Sort of like truth and honor. Which are also concepts that I don't actually believe in either. But in a really romantic way I do.

Narrator: Not all of the images depict heroes though. In the upper left-corner, Dupuy-Spencer included an image of the cartoon character Sylvester the cat.

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer: I started this painting when Hillary Clinton was going to be president which, you know, whatever. In the last push of this painting it turns out we are actually going to have Donald Trump as our president. To me that painting in the upper left it's just my psyche and probably the psyche of almost everybody that I know. Sylvester is chain smoking, Sylvester the cartoon character—the cat. [laughs]

Narrator: Dupuy-Spencer addresses a wide range of subjects in the smaller works. One water color depicts her brother Asher and his baby, Miro. In a very different vein, there’s a drawing that depicts a Donald Trump rally.