The Whitney Biennial has surveyed the landscape of American art, reflecting and shaping the cultural conversation, since 1932. The eightieth edition of the landmark exhibition is co-curated by David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of Curatorial Initiatives, and Adrienne Edwards, Engell Speyer Family Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs. Titled Quiet as It’s Kept, the 2022 Biennial features an intergenerational and interdisciplinary group of sixty-three artists and collectives whose dynamic works reflect the challenges, complexities, and possibilities of the American experience today.
‘Art In America’ May 2022 – Each May, Art in America brings our readers a sampling of “new talent,” with a special focus on artists whose practice makes them stand out in a sea of competitors vying for attention. “Practice” is very much the operative word here: at a time when many artists are becoming known more for their social-media presence than for their creative endeavors, and when careers are bolstered more by the market than by critical attention, the editors, critics, and curators who contributed to our selection this year remained centered on what matters. As you’ll discover in these pages, the artists showcased are all contributing in some resonant way to the ongoing dialogue around art, aesthetics, and the culture at large, from Alexander Si, who turns an anthropological lens on the culture of whiteness; to Suneil Sanzgiri, whose films engage with anticolonialism; to Laurie Kang, who treats photography as a form of installation art (and who has contributed a compelling print to this issue); to the other notable talents featured. With this issue, we continue a tradition developed over more than a century of this magazine: writing art history as it is being made.
The department of European and American Art Before 1900 oversees a collection that includes more than 3,000 artworks and is composed of painting, sculpture, and works on paper, with significant strengths in early Italian Renaissance, 19th century French painting, and British art from 1400 to 1900.
The Denver Art Museum began acquiring notable examples of European art as early as the 1930s, with donations from Samuel H. Kress, Mr. and Mrs. Simon Guggenheim, and the Havemeyers, to name a few. Their generosity helped initiate a collection that grew in time through gifts and purchases.
Eakins’s ambitious painting brought Renaissance-era virtuosity to the mid–19th century United States, as American art was still struggling to find its place on the world stage. The Gross Clinic, which still hangs in Philadelphia today, is a triumph of composition, light, and shadow.
In 1875, Thomas Eakins decided to paint a picture that would glorify his hometown of Philadelphia. The first ever World’s Fair to be held in the United States, the Centennial International Exhibition, would open in the city the following year. Through his painting, Eakins hoped to honor the scientific breakthroughs that were coming out of the local Jefferson Medical College. The artist observed live procedures by the celebrated surgeon Dr. Samuel Gross, then translated them onto a large-scale canvas that he titled Dr. Gross (1875) (now known as The Gross Clinic). The work has become perhaps the most important painting in the history of American art.