2014 biennial

A throwback in honor of our recently announced Laura Owens mid-career retrospective, opening this November. On the left is a work by Owens, now part of our collection, hanging in the 2014 Biennial. Untitled (2014) appropriates a 1970s inspirational poster and reconfigures the image into multiple screenprinted layers, adding thick impasto marks and a wooden grid that cuts through the strata. The background layer, which is sized 3% larger than the foreground, appears to lift off the linen thanks to a trompe-l’oeil shadow, while the upper layer is presented as a gestural scribble. Among some of the unsettling results of this separation are a boy’s fractured face and the jumbled text which reiterates the words “and hang.“

[Installation view of Whitney Biennial 2014 (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, March 7, 2014–May 25, 2014). Photograph by Sheldan C. Collins]

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., Keith Mayerson’s Drum Majors (Martin Luther King, Jr., and Family), which was installed at the 2014 Biennial.

Keith Mayerson (b. 1966), Drum Majors (Martin Luther King, Jr., and Family), 2008. Oil on linen, 40 × 30 in. (101.6 × 76.2 cm). Courtesy the artist

“When in doubt, spray paint it gold.” —Rebecca Morris in her manifesto, For Abstractionists and Friends of the Non-Objective, a tongue-in-cheek yet absolutely sincere call to arms for practitioners of the form. See her work on the second floor of the Biennial.

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Authorship has become very slippery, and the ownership of ideas has become less interesting today than the rapid sharing of them.
—  Michelle Grabner, one of the three curators of the 2014 Biennial, in The New York Times profile of HOWDOYOUSAYYAMINAFRICAN, a global collective whose work will be on view in the exhibition.

For over four decades, Channa Horwitz produced works using a rigid formal vocabulary of her devising, built on a standardized grid and a system of notations based on the numbers 1 through 8, each assigned its own color. Horwitz developed the system as a way of marking and expressing time, movement, and rhythm.

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Alex Jovanovich’s 35mm slideshows employ a stark, typically black-and-white palette, a deliberate pace, and poetic language hearkening back to the Old Testament and American Puritanism to explore romantic subjects such as love, spirituality, melancholy, and the cosmos. See his installation at the Biennial through Sunday. 

Alex Jovanovich (b. 1975), Untitled, 2014. 35 mm slideshow; 6 mins., 40 secs. Collection of the artist; courtesy the artist. © Alex Jovanovich

The New York Times previews the 2014 Biennial, highlighting some of the themes—nostalgia, women revitalizing abstract painting, architecture, and more—that figure prominently in the seventy-seventh edition of the Museum’s signature exhibition.

Laura Owens (b. 1970), Untitled, 2013 (detail). Oil, Flashe, acrylic, bike wheels, training wheels, wagon wheels, and tricycle wheel on linen, 108 × 84 in. (274.3 × 213.4 cm), Private collection; courtesy the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York. Photograph by Tom Powel

Susan Howe’s poems on view in the 2014 Biennial draw on a wide variety of texts, spanning American, British, and Irish poetry and folklore as well as critical and art historical sources. She cuts out sentences and fragments of pages, pasting and taping them to create a new text that retains the typefaces, spacing, and rhythms of the originals. These compositions are then made into letterpress prints.

Susan Howe, Untitled (from Tom Tit Tot), 2013. Letterpress print, 12 × 9 in. (30.5 × 22.9 cm). Collection of the artist. © Susan Howe

Charline von Heyl’s series of collages began with enlarged copies of photogravure reproductions from a midcentury book on Russian and Polish folk art. Focusing on details such as the wood or ceramic surfaces of the objects in the pictures, von Heyl tears up the copies and collages them onto drawings made with ink, wax, crayon, spray paint, charcoal, and acrylic, allowing an element of chance to determine the final composition.

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