The curatorial team for the 2008 Whitney Biennial has selected 81 artists for the exhibition, which opens at the Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street, on March 6, and runs through June 1, 2008. Since its founding in 1932, the Biennial has evolved into the Whitney’s signature exhibition as well as the most important survey of the state of contemporary art in the United States today. The exhibition will occupy the entire Museum, with the exception of the fifth floor, which is devoted to the permanent collection.

The 2008 Biennial is curated by Henriette Huldisch, Assistant Curator at the Whitney, and Shamim M. Momin, Associate Curator at the Whitney and Branch Director and Curator of the Whitney Museum at Altria, and overseen by Donna De Salvo, the Whitney’s Chief Curator and Associate Director for Programs. Three advisors worked with the curatorial team throughout the process: Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem; Bill Horrigan, Director of the Media Arts department at the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University; and Linda Norden, independent curator and writer.

For the first time, the Whitney is collaborating with the Park Avenue Armory and Art Production Fund (APF), to provide the Biennial with a second venue in the historic Seventh Regiment Armory building, at Park Avenue and 67 th Street. The Armory will be the setting for a series of performances, temporary installations, events, and other public programs by Biennial artists from March 4 to March 22, creating an opportunity to present works that could not be accommodated within the Whitney’s walls and remaining true to the fluid, interactive way in which these works were conceived.

Donna De Salvo noted, “The Biennial is a laboratory, a way of ‘taking the temperature’ of what is happening now and putting it on view. It influences our thinking on multiple levels and, for the Whitney, translates directly into the choices we make about our exhibitions and collections. In dealing with the art of the present, there are no easy assessments, only multiple points of entry. For the Whitney, and for our public, we hope the Biennial is one way in.”

History

The prototype for the Biennial debuted soon after Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney opened the Whitney Studio Club in Greenwich Village in 1918. At a time when American artists were struggling to free themselves from the prevailing art and culture of Europe, the Studio Club was an alternative space where artists could gather and display their works in annual survey exhibitions. These small, early versions of the Biennial created the first major public forum for contemporary American art, as well as a means for the advancement and assimilation of modernism into the predominantly realist tradition of American art. Many artists who would later be counted among the most important figures in 20 th-century American art had their first exhibition opportunities at the Whitney, including Milton Avery, Philip Guston, Edward Hopper, and Georgia O’Keeffe.

In 1931 the Whitney Museum of American Art opened to the public, and the first Whitney Biennial was introduced in 1932. The 2008 Biennial will be the 74th in the series of Whitney Annual and Biennial exhibitions held since 1932, the same year that the Museum established an acquisition fund for purchases from each Biennial exhibition. The early Biennials alternated painting with sculpture and works on paper; selections were made, at first, by the artists and then by curators. In 1937, the program was changed to Annual exhibitions of separate media (painting displayed in the fall, and sculpture and other media in the spring). In 1973 the current program of Biennials of combined media was instated.

Artists

These are the artists selected for the 2008 Whitney Biennial:

  • Rita Ackermann. Born 1968 in Budapest, Hungary. Lives in New York, New York
  • Natalia Almada. Born 1974 in Mexico. Lives in Mexico City, Mexico and New York, New York
  • Edgar Arceneaux. Born 1972 in Los Angeles, California. Lives in Los Angeles, California
  • Fia Backström. Born 1970 in Stockholm, Sweden. Lives in New York, New York
  • John Baldessari. Born 1931 in National City, California. Lives in Santa Monica, California
  • Robert Bechtle. Born 1932 in San Francisco, California. Lives in San Francisco, California
  • Walead Beshty. Born 1976 in London, England. Lives in Los Angeles, California
  • Carol Bove. Born 1971 in Geneva, Switzerland. Lives in New York, New York
  • Joe Bradley. Born 1975 in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. Lives in New York, New York
  • Matthew Brannon. Born 1971 in Saint Maries, Idaho. Lives in New York, New York
  • Bozidar Brazda. Born 1972 in Cambridge, Canada. Lives in New York, New York
  • Olaf Breuning. Born 1970 in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. Lives in New York, New York
  • Jedediah Caesar. Born 1973 in Oakland, California. Lives in Los Angeles, California
  • William Cordova. Born 1971 in Lima, Peru. Lives in Houston, Texas and Miami, Florida
  • Dexter Sinister, Stuart Bailey. Born 1973 in York, England. David Reinfurt. Born 1971 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Based in New York, New York
  • Harry (Harriet) Dodge and Stanya Kahn. Born 1966 and 1968, respectively, in San Francisco, California. Live in Los Angeles, California
  • Shannon Ebner. Born 1971 in Englewood, New Jersey. Lives in Los Angeles, California
  • Gardar Eide Einarsson. Born 1976 in Oslo, Norway. Lives in New York, New York
  • Roe Ethridge. Born 1969 in Miami, Florida. Lives in New York, New York
  • Kevin Jerome Everson. Born 1965 in Mansfield, Ohio. Lives in Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Omer Fast. Born 1972 in Jerusalem, Israel. Lives in Berlin, Germany
  • Robert Fenz. Born 1969 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Coco Fusco. Born 1960 in New York, New York. Lives in New York, New York
  • Gang Gang Dance Lizzi Bougatsos, Brian DeGraw, Tim DeWit, Josh Diamond, Nathan Maddox. Founded 2001-02 in New York, New York. Based in New York, New York
  • Amy Granat and Drew Heitzler. Born 1976 in St. Louis, Missouri, and born 1972 in Charleston, South Carolina, respectively. Live in New York, NY, and Los Angeles, California, respectively
  • Rashawn Griffin. Born 1980 in Los Angeles, California. Lives in New York, New York
  • Adler Guerrier. Born 1975 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Lives in Miami, Florida
  • MK Guth. Born 1963 in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Lives in Portland, Oregon
  • Fritz Haeg. Born 1969 in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Lives in Los Angeles, California
  • Rachel Harrison. Born 1966 in New York, New York. Lives in New York, New York
  • Ellen Harvey. Born 1967 in Kent, England. Lives in New York, New York
  • Mary Heilmann. Born 1940 in San Francisco, California. Lives in New York, New York
  • Leslie Hewitt. Born 1977 in New York, New York. Lives in New York, New York and Houston, Texas
  • Patrick Hill. Born 1972 in Royal Oak, Michigan. Lives in Los Angeles, California
  • William E. Jones. Born 1962 in Canton, Ohio. Lives in Los Angeles, California
  • Karen Kilimnik. Born 1955 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Alice Könitz. Born 1970 in Essen, Germany. Lives in Los Angeles, California
  • Louise Lawler. Born 1947 in Bronxville, New York. Lives in New York, New York
  • Spike Lee. Born 1957 in Atlanta, Georgia. Lives in New York, New York
  • Sherrie Levine. Born 1947 in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico and New York, New York
  • Charles Long. Born 1958 in Long Branch, New Jersey. Lives in Los Angeles, California
  • Lucky Dragons Luke Fischbeck. Born 1978 in San Francisco, California. Live in Los Angeles, California
  • Daniel Joseph Martinez. Born 1957 in Los Angeles, California. Lives in Los Angeles, California
  • Corey McCorkle. Born 1969 in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Lives in New York, New York
  • Rodney McMillian. Born 1969 in Columbia, South Carolina. Lives in Los Angeles, California
  • Julia Meltzer and David Thorne. Born 1968 in Hollywood, California, and born 1960 in Boston, Massachusetts. Live in Los Angeles, California
  • Jennifer Montgomery. Born 1961 in New York, New York. Lives in Chicago, Illinois
  • Olivier Mosset. Born 1944 in Bern, Switzerland. Lives in Tucson, Arizona
  • Matt Mullican. Born 1951 in Santa Monica, California. Lives in New York, New York
  • Neighborhood Public Radio (NPR). Formed 2004 in Oakland, California. Based in Oakland, San Francisco, and San Diego, California, and Chicago, Illinois
  • Ruben Ochoa. Born 1974 in Oceanside, California. Lives in Los Angeles, California
  • DJ Olive. Born 1961 in Boston, Massachusetts. Lives in New York, New York
  • Mitzi Pederson. Born 1976 in Stuart, Florida. Lives in San Francisco, California
  • Kembra Pfahler/The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black. Born 1961 in Hermosa Beach, California. Lives in New York, New York
  • Seth Price. Born 1973 in East Jerusalem. Lives in New York, New York
  • Stephen Prina. Born 1954 in Galesburg, Illinois. Lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Los Angeles, California
  • Adam Putnam. Born 1973 in New York, New York. Lives in New York, New York
  • Michael Queenland. Born 1970 in Pasadena, California. Lives in New York, New York
  • Jason Rhoades. Born 1965, Newcastle, California Died 2006, Los Angeles, California
  • Ry Rocklen. Born 1978 in Los Angeles, California. Lives in Los Angeles, California
  • Bert Rodriguez. Born 1975 in Miami, Florida. Lives in Miami, Florida
  • Marina Rosenfeld. Born 1968 in New York, New York. Lives in New York, New York
  • Amanda Ross-Ho. Born 1975 in Chicago, Illinois. Lives in Los Angeles, California
  • Mika Rottenberg. Born 1976 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Lives in New York, New York
  • Heather Rowe. Born 1970 in New Haven, Connecticut. Lives in New York, New York
  • Eduardo Sarabia. Born 1976 in Los Angeles, California. Lives in Los Angeles, California, Guadalajara, Mexico, and Berlin, Germany
  • Melanie Schiff. Born 1977 in Chicago, Illinois. Lives in Chicago, Illinois
  • Amie Siegel. Born 1974 in Chicago, Illinois. Lives in New York, New York and Berlin, Germany
  • Lisa Sigal. Born 1962 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Lives in New York, New York
  • Gretchen Skogerson. Born 1970 in Teaneck, New Jersey. Lives in New York, New York
  • Michael Smith. Born 1951 in Chicago, Illinois. Lives in New York, New York and Austin, Texas
  • Agathe Snow. Born 1976 in Corsica, France. Lives in New York, New York
  • Frances Stark. Born 1967 in Newport Beach, California. Lives in Los Angeles, California
  • Mika Tajima/New Humans. Born 1975 in Los Angeles, California. Lives in New York, New York
  • Howie Chen. Born 1976 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Lives in New York, New York
  • Javier Téllez. Born 1969 in Valencia, Venezuela. Lives in New York, New York
  • Cheyney Thompson. Born 1975 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Lives in New York, New York
  • Mungo Thomson. Born 1969 in Woodland, California. Lives in Berlin, Germany and Los Angeles, California
  • Leslie Thornton. Born 1951 in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Lives in New York, New York
  • Phoebe Washburn. Born 1973 in Poughkeepsie, New York. Lives in New York, New York
  • James Welling. Born 1951 in Hartford, Connecticut. Lives in Los Angeles, California
  • Mario Ybarra, Jr. Born 1973 in Los Angeles, California. Lives in Los Angeles, California

Catalog

The 2008 Biennial catalog includes essays by Biennial curators Henriette Huldisch and Shamim M. Momin, as well as a specially commissioned essay by Rebecca Solnit, a writer, historian, and activist. In one section of the book, short texts accompany reproductions of each artist’s work; other sections present documentation of the artists’ diverse methods and practices as represented in the Biennial exhibition. The book, designed by Miko McGinty, will be distributed by Yale University Press.

Biennial Information

Tickets for the 2008 Biennial go on sale in February 2008. Admission to the Biennial events at the Park Avenue Armory is free. Check whitney.org for updates.

The Bucksbaum Award

During the course of the 2008 Biennial, the fifth Bucksbaum Award will be given. Endowed by Whitney trustee Melva Bucksbaum and her family, The Bucksbaum Award is an honor given to an artist chosen from among those in the Biennial. It includes a grant of $100,000 and an exhibition at the Whitney. Mark Bradford was the most recent recipient in 2006. Previous recipients were Raymond Pettibon in 2004, Irit Batsry in 2002, and Paul Pfeiffer in 2000.

About the Whitney

The Whitney Museum of American Art is the leading advocate of 20 th- and 21stcentury American art. Founded in 1930, the Museum is regarded as the preeminent collection of American art and includes major works and materials from the estate of Edward Hopper, the largest public collection of works by Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson, and Lucas Samaras, as well as significant works by Jasper Johns, Donald Judd, Agnes Martin, Bruce Nauman, Georgia O’Keeffe, Claes Oldenburg, Kiki Smith, and Andy Warhol, among other artists. With its history of exhibiting the most promising and influential American artists and provoking intense critical and public debate, the Whitney’s signature show, the Biennial, has become the most important survey of the state of contemporary art in America today.