Last month, members of our design team went downtown to visit the 2017 Whitney Biennial. At its 78th installment, the Whitney Biennial remains longest-running and most relevant surveys of contemporary American art. They were met by a fascinating miscellany of pieces, pertaining not only to polarizing atmosphere of social and political unrest, but also a bold redefinition of established conventions of design itself. Here are a few of the highlights.
The artist, Jessi Reaves, contributed work to the Biennial that explores the boundary between furniture and sculpture. In a deconstructive piece of midcentury design, Herman’s Dress, an Eames Herman Miller sofa was sheathed in a translucent pink slipcover. In other pieces, Reaves incorporates foam, scraps of wood, sawdust, and cheap fabric, to produce conglomerations that lay in stark contrast to the polished modern pieces we have come to expect. The artist’s work is on display throughout the museum, including inside the conference rooms.
In Larry Bell’s Pacific Red II installation, he draws in the viewer with a series of glassy red cubes, inventively comprised of refractive and reflective materials like mirrors and tinted glass. The viewer, and the reflections of the surrounding environment become combined or superimposed to produce a communally-oriented effect, while maintaining an evanescent formal simplicity.
In Samara Golden’s installation, The Meat Grinder’s Iron Clothes (2017), beside a striking view of the Westside Highway, were tiered colorful well-designed diorama-like floors of beauty salons, house laboratories, bathrooms, bedrooms, waiting rooms, and office work stations, descending downward infinitely in a dizzying collusion of mirrors. The images, although pleasurable at first glance, reveal an unnerving reality of dystopic disintegration.
The 2017 Whitney Biennial is on view March 17 – June 17, 2017