October 29, 2021—February 27, 2022
For two decades, the members of My Barbarian—Malik Gaines, Jade Gordon, and Alexandro Segade—have used performance to theatricalize social issues, adapting narratives from modern plays, historical texts, and mass media into structures for their performances.
On the occasion of their twentieth anniversary, My Barbarian will present a two-part survey of their work. One part will reimagine iconic shows representative of the trio's array of theatrical styles through a series of live performances, including a play, a festival, a cabaret-style concert, and a rehearsal-as-performance. These will be complemented by an exhibition that traces the history of the group's work through video performances and documentary footage, as well as sculptures, paintings, drawings, masks, and puppets drawn from their extensive archive.
To celebrate My Barbarian's creative output, the Whitney has commissioned Rose Bird, which will be composed, directed, and performed by the trio. This performance for the camera will be created in homage to the first female chief justice of the California Supreme Court, Rose Bird, a controversial figure due to her opposition to the death penalty—a sentence she repeatedly overturned during her decade-long tenure. Working with a variety of texts, Rose Bird will reimagine scenes from her biography as a teleplay and appropriate the media reports that framed both her personal life and work.
My Barbarian is organized by Adrienne Edwards, Engell Speyer Family Curator and Curator of Performance, with Mia Matthias, curatorial assistant.
Labyrinth of Forms: Women and Abstraction, 1930–1950
October 9, 2021—March 13, 2022
During the 1930s and 1940s, abstraction began to solidify as an exciting, fresh form of modern artmaking in the United States, and a small assortment of American artists dedicated themselves to it. Labyrinth of Forms, a title drawn from an Alice Trumbull Mason work in this exhibition, alludes to the sense of discovery that drove these artists’ attempts to establish a visual form that reflected the advances of the twentieth century.
Many of these abstractionists were women, and they played important roles in propelling the formal, technical, and conceptual evolution of abstract art in this country. While a few of these artists, like Lee Krasner and Louise Nevelson, have been duly recognized, most remain overlooked in spite of their prominence within this burgeoning movement. With thirty-five works by twenty-six artists drawn almost entirely from the Whitney’s permanent collection, Labyrinth of Forms seeks to highlight the achievements of these artists and explores the ways in which works on paper, in particular, were important sites for experimentation and innovation.
Labyrinth of Forms: Women and Abstraction, 1930–1950 is curated by Sarah Humphreville, Senior Curatorial Assistant.
Jennifer Packer: The Eye Is Not Satisfied With Seeing
October 29, 2021—April 17, 2022
Jennifer Packer's paintings and drawings combine observation, memory, and improvisation. Featuring over thirty works from the past decade, The Eye Is Not Satisfied With Seeing is the largest survey of Packer's practice to date. Her intimate renderings of friends, family, and flowers evoke the art historical genres of portraiture and still life, while also highlighting the politics of representation.
Her paintings, most recently seen at the Whitney in the 2019 Biennial, slide between the fidelity of depiction and the freedom of abstraction. This avowal of both clarity and opacity endows her paintings with the same complexity she sees in the Black sitters that populate her art—and the world. "My inclination to paint," Packer has said, "especially from life, is a completely political one. We belong here. We deserve to be seen and acknowledged in real time. We deserve to be heard and to be imaged with shameless generosity and accuracy."
Jennifer Packer: The Eye Is Not Satisfied With Seeing was initiated by Serpentine and curated by Melissa Blanchflower, curator, exhibitions and public art with Natalia Grabowska, assistant curator. The presentation at the Whitney is organized by Rujeko Hockley, Arnhold Associate Curator, and Jane Panetta, curator and director of the collection.
2022 Whitney Biennial
The Whitney Biennial was introduced in 1932 by the Museum's founder, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. Established to chart developments in art of the United States, it is the longest-running exhibition of its kind. To date, more than 3,600 influential and innovative artists have participated in a Whitney biennial or annual. A constellation of the most relevant art and ideas of our time, the 2022 exhibition will be the Biennial's eightieth edition.
The 2022 Whitney Biennial is co-organized by David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of Curatorial Initiatives, and Adrienne Edwards, Engell Speyer Family Curator and Curator of Performance, with Margaret Kross, senior curatorial assistant.