Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Whitney Biennial

The Whitney Biennial, the most highly anticipated American review of contemporary art, opened this week.  Here are a couple takes on it.  Roberta Smith's review in the New York Times, and a rather darker critical take from the online journal Hyperallergic.


  1. It sounds like the two reviewers attended different Whitney Biennials. Is the New York Times a sponsor, because that article by Roberta Smith found few problems and sounds more like a press release. I too have loved exhibitions, but there always seems to be something that could have been done better. Smith does mention some of what it lacks, but overall she makes it sound like the best, most important thing to happen ever… and we need to visit the Whitney Biennial as many times as we possibly can. Thomas Micchelli’s review mentions some very interesting behind the scenes problems and critically looks at the functions of the Biennial, but some of his problems with the show seem nitpicky.

  2. I think one of the ways to view a review, especially if a bias is suspected, is to look at the background of the writers. I did find that Thomas Miccheli is an artist himself. He has a site which lists many of his writings (

    An interview with Roberta Smith ( from 2009 seems to show a much broader, open-minded background to viewing a range of new work.

    I would have to read each site's content in more detail to form a definite opinion, but that's my original impression.