Aside from my biennial wish that the biennial be an annual and have a 50-50 male/female ratio, I have five other list-queenly qualms about this exhibition.
1. This biennial might have twinkled more had the curators switched a few of the big names for slightly less predictable big names: Mary Heilmann instead of Robert Mangold, Jim Nutt rather than David Hockney, William Eggleston instead of Jack Pierson, Lee Bontecou rather than Alex Hay, and R. Crumb and Cady Noland instead of Paul McCarthy and Richard Prince.
2. Nix all those middle-range artists (Craigie Horsfield et al.) for
weirder, more visionary ones like Verne Dawson, Ricci Albenda, Dana Schutz,
Trisha Donnelly, Anna Gaskell, Lisa Ruyter, Robert Melee, Benjamin Butler, Jonathan
Horowitz, Guy Richards Smit, Steve DiBenedetto, Jon Kessler and Paul Chan, or
(even though I’m not a fan of all of them) Pierre Huyghe, Takashi Murakami,
William Kentridge, Rudolf Stingel, Urs Fisher, Jim Lambie, Vanessa Beecroft,
Douglas Gordon, Ugo Rondinoni and Francis Alÿs—all of whom live part-time in
the United States.
3. Why no artists from San Francisco when the place is hopping? Tokyo, Helsinki, and Bisbee, Arizona, fared better.
4. The catalog is spiffy and has good texts by the curators, Robert Smithson, Anaïs Nin, Tim Griffin, and the inimitable Wayne Koestenbaum (“Fag Limbo”). But the “boxed set” with bumper stickers, postcards, and “artist projects” is something you’ll look at exactly once.
5. Even though he’s erratic, shouldn’t Jeff Koons be allowed back into one of these shows? It’s been since the 1980s. Surely by now he can be forgiven for whatever he did.
Jerry Saltz’s review of the 2004 Whitney Biennial
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 9, 2004