26 February, 2010

The Duchess Observes . . .

The Whitney Biennial

The Duchess's speedy departure from New York coincided with one very important event -- this year's Whitney Biennial, which opened on Thursday, February 25. This year's Biennial is the first in its history to represent artists, over half of whom are women. But the Biennial has no apparent socio-political agenda, and neither do its artists (those who happen to be women, that is, as opposed to the "women artists"). Their works are not dominated by a feminist or feminine message, and to the Duchess's eyes, one is not even intimated. Unlike the sexualized works of Marilyn Minter (whom the Duchess adores) that fetishize objects of female desire (such as jewelry) or hyperbolize the feminine ideal without fantasy or sentimentality (her photos of Pamela Anderson, unlike the popular portraits by John Currin), this year's Whitney works play less with interpretations of gendered identity and more with interpretations of the human experience writ large.

Aurel Schmidt, The Fall, 2010

Take, for example, art world hot shot Aurel Schmidt. She's everywhere these days, making the rounds of the downtown party circuit as well as the Madison Avenue art museum circuit. The British Columbian even made PAPERMAG's 2009 list of "Beautiful People." No doubt this year's Biennial inclusion will enhance her growing profile even further, and besides, her art is even good.

Maureen Gallace, Cape Cod, 2008

Maureen Gallace is New York-based but had a solo exhibition last year at the Michael Kohn Gallery on Beverly Boulevard (at Crescent Heights), by whom she is represented; it preceded the blockbuster exhibition of photographs by none other than -- David Lynch (did the Duchess see you there, readers?).

Pae White, Smoke Knows, 2009

Pae White is Pasadena-born and Los Angeles-based; she is steeped in Southern California, and it shows in her work. "Smoke Knows" is a tapestry, cotton and polyester, made by (apparently) superimposing a photographic image of smoke plumes onto the textile. Ms. White also exhibited at the Biennale (Venice) in 2009.

Lesley Vance, Untitled (12), 2009

Huge representation in the Biennial this year by artists living/working in Los Angeles, such as Lesley Vance. More than one of them have MFAs from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, a program discussed at length in "Seven Days in the Art World," that pre-recession chronicle of the excesses and glamour of the modern art world.

Kelly Nipper, Weather Center, 2009

Kelly Nipper is a Los Angeles multimedia artist, and her work included in the Biennial is video footage of a self-choreographed, self-performed dance.

Hannah Greely, Dual, 2005-2009

Love this piece by Los Angeles-based artist Hannah Greely. For the Duchess, it is evocative of refuse, memory and loss; its object base is completely quotidian but there is nothing ordinary about the work. Would love to see this en personne.

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