Whitney Biennial 2017

Mar 17–June 11, 2017

The 2017 Whitney Biennial, the seventy-eighth installment of the longest-running survey of American art, arrives at a time rife with racial tensions, economic inequities, and polarizing politics. Throughout the exhibition, artists challenge us to consider how these realities affect our senses of self and community. The Biennial features sixty-three individuals and collectives whose work takes a wide variety of forms, from painting and installation to activism and video-game design.


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Oto Gillen


Floor 5

Born 1984 in New York, NY
Lives in New York, NY

Oto Gillen’s New York is at once familiar and strange, mundane and futuristic. A lifelong New Yorker, he spent more than a year walking the city’s streets to create the images on view in the 2017 Biennial. The gradual rise of a tower at the World Trade Center complex and changing seasons mark the passage of time in his ever-shifting portrait of the city. Views of passersby and close-ups of objects record the intimate, fleeting encounters of daily life at street level, while images of looming skyscrapers convey the city’s vast scale and evolving skyline. Gillen’s photographs capture individual residents but also allude to the larger economic, political, and social forces that entangle them.

New York, 2015–ongoing


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Audio guides

Hear directly from artists and curators on selected works from the exhibition.

View guide

Film Program

For ten consecutive weekends, the Biennial film program will present new moving image works in the Susan and John Hess Family Theater. At once radical and quiet, global and intimate, the selected works explore subjective and affective experiences of the contemporary political and social moment. Reflecting on the urgent themes seen in the exhibition, the film program features some of the most exciting voices working in moving image today.

Each Sunday at 3 pm, the artists will be present for a screening and conversation.

View full schedule

Exhibition Catalogue

The catalogue for the 2017 Biennial features texts and images representing the participants, artists who work in a variety of media including painting, sculpture, photography, film, and performance, as well as essays by the two curators and contributions by the advisors. As a record of the artists and ideas presented in this year’s Biennial, it serves as an essential resource on current trends in contemporary art in the United States.

Read an excerpt from the catalogue

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Explore works from this exhibition
in the Whitney's collection

View 38 works

In the News

“This exhibition makes an exciting, powerful case for art.”
The New York Times

“Presenting a mélange of American perspectives, the biennial succeeds in keeping a finger on the pulse of a divisive and diverse cultural landscape.”
Apollo Magazine

“The 2017 Whitney Biennial is the best of its kind in some time.”
New York Magazine

“A must-see exhibition for anyone interested in contemporary art, a snapshot of American creativity and sometimes American culture.”

“Everything had to be reinvented for the 2017 Whitney Biennial . . . But then, this leading showcase of contemporary American art feels refreshed in other ways, too.”
The New York Times

“The Whitney revealed the 63 participants in its sprawling survey of what’s happening now in contemporary art—the new, the influential and the potentially provocative.”
The New York Times

“The 2017 Whitney Biennial Will Feature Edgy, Trending Artists in ‘Turbulent’ Times”
artnet News

“The Whitney Biennial, inaugurated by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1932, still stands out as the pre-eminent biennial in this country.”
The New York Times

More About the Exhibition

The formation of self and the individual’s place in a turbulent society are among the key themes reflected in the work of the artists selected for the 2017 Whitney Biennial. The exhibition includes sixty-three participants, ranging from emerging to well-established individuals and collectives working in painting, sculpture, drawing, installation, film and video, photography, activism, performance, music, and video game design.

The Whitney Biennial is the longest running survey of contemporary art in the United States, with a history of exhibiting the most promising and influential artists and provoking lively debate. The 2017 Biennial is the Museum’s seventy-eighth in a continuous series of Annual and Biennial exhibitions initiated by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1932. It is the first to be held in the Whitney’s downtown home at 99 Gansevoort Street, and the largest ever in terms of gallery space.

The 2017 Whitney Biennial is co-curated by Christopher Y. Lew and Mia Locks.

The film program is organized by Christopher Y. Lew, Mia Locks, and Aily Nash.

Read more about the 2017 Biennial curators and advisors.

Pope.L is the recipient of the 2017 Bucksbaum Award.

Whitney Biennial 2017 is presented by

Major support is provided by


Major support is also provided by The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston and the National Committee of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Significant support is provided by the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation.

Generous support is provided by 2017 Biennial Committee Co-Chairs: Leslie Bluhm, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Bob Gersh, and Miyoung Lee; 2017 Biennial Committee members: Ashley Leeds and Christopher Harland, Diane and Adam E. Max, Teresa Tsai, Suzanne and Bob Cochran, Rebecca and Martin Eisenberg, Amanda and Glenn Fuhrman, Barbara and Michael Gamson, Kourosh Larizadeh and Luis Pardo, Iris Z. Marden, Artur Melentin, Tracy and Gary Mezzatesta, and Jackson Tang; the Henry Peterson Foundation; and anonymous donors.

Additional support provided by the Austrian Federal Chancellery and Phileas – A Fund for Contemporary Art.

Funding is also provided by special Biennial endowments created by Melva Bucksbaum, Emily Fisher Landau, Leonard A. Lauder, and Fern and Lenard Tessler.

Additional endowment support is provided by The Keith Haring Foundation Exhibition Fund, Donna Perret Rosen and Benjamin M. Rosen, and the Jon and Mary Shirley Foundation.

Curatorial research and travel for this exhibition were funded by an endowment established by Rosina Lee Yue and Bert A. Lies, Jr., MD.

New York magazine is the exclusive media sponsor of Whitney Biennial 2017.

More from this series

Learn more about the Whitney Biennial, the longest-running survey of American art.