Magazine Home  |  News  |  Features  |  Reviews  |  Books  |  People  |  Horoscope  

Whitney Museum director-designate Adam D. Weinberg

Chrissie Iles
Curator of film and video
Whitney Museum

Joan Brown
Self Portrait at Age 39
George Adams Gallery

Rebecca Howland
Smudgepot, Hot-hot, Bomb

Cady Noland
The Big Slide

Paul Cadmus
Jon Extracting a Splinter
DC Moore Gallery

Robert Indiana
US 66 (Cities)
Paul Kasmin Gallery
Wish List for the Dog Days
by Charlie Finch

Paradoxically, the roads to Baghdad and a new, improved New York art world lead through the same secondary school, Andover. The proud alma mater of both presidents Bush has also produced young Tim Griffin, the new editor of Artforum, and handed the distinguished director of its Addison Gallery of American Art, Adam Weinberg, back to the Whitney Museum, just as it sent its previous director, Jock Reynolds, to New Haven, to spruce up the art galleries at Yale.

But this is nothing new for Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass. Its alumni include: Klaus Kertess, Les Blank, Joseph Cornell, Samuel F.B. Morse, Frederick Law Olmsted, George Rickey, Frank Stella, Lucy Lippard, Wendy Ewald, Peter Halley, George Tooker, Hollis Frampton, Carl Andre, Mel Kendrick, Carroll Dunham and even your not-so-humble scribe.

Who says elitism is dead? Certainly not Adam Weinberg, sensibly returned to the Whitney to restore the sense of historicism, connoisseurship and fair play that distinguished his predecessors Lloyd Goodrich and Tom Armstrong.

Automatically, the Whitney Biennial becomes a major show again. In fact, our spies have spotted co-curator Chrissie Iles prowling Chelsea galleries throughout the summer, as well she should, as this has been the most lucrative summer for New York galleries in memory. During the dog days, sources have called us with tips, such as "Andrea Rosen is extending her excellent show until Sept. 5, when she's planning a closing bash," or "Rare Gallery sold ten pieces in one day," or "Mary Boone is working the phones in her office, and it's August!"

The "OnLine" show at Feigen Contemporary, organized in this corner, sold 52 pieces by 20 different artists, and that was hardly atypical. Hence, a Whitney Biennial dominated by the New York gallery scene is just the ticket.

Since the Whitney's schedule over the next two years already includes interesting surveys of Jay DeFeo and Romare Bearden, Adam Weinberg's curatorial seeds won't bear full fruit until MoMA returns to Manhattan in 2005. Considering the excellent programs of visual art that Weinberg organized around Trisha Brown's performance archive at the Addison, here are a few curatorial suggestions for Adam's Whitney:

"The Unfinished Woman"
In light of the moronic tits and ass now infecting Reality Show America, it's time to return to the feminist pioneers of post-war USA and select some outstanding works of liberation, femme style, from the forgotten past. Artists could include Joan Brown, Hannah Wilkie, Rebecca Howland, Moira Dryer, Ree Morton, Ellen Berkenblit, Judy Rifka, Judy Pfaff, Cady Noland and so many others.

"Old and In the Way"
Speaking of Cady Noland, this major 1990s art star recently emailed Artnet as follows: "I represent myself. I also sell work through galleries on occasion, but I have no gallery affiliations in the United States or abroad."

Cady' statement echoes so many laments we hear from middle-aged artists with glorious, American pasts -- "We've been steamrolled by the young stars."

Such a show would concentrate on major works by now-neglected American artists of the '70s, '80s and '90s, emphasizing individual masterpieces, rather than star power or the thematic coherence of a body of work.

Candidates are far too numerous to mention.

"America at War!"
A great opportunity to blend classics from the Whitney's permanent collection, with kitsch elements, patriotism and anti-war protests, focusing on the continuous war for freedom that the rest of the world has forced the USA to fight since 1917. The roster of artists would be spectacularly fecund: Childe Hassam, George Bellows, Marsden Hartley, Carolee Schneemann, Robert Morris, Frederick Hart, Maya Lin, Norman Rockwell, Paul Cadmus, Robert Rauschenberg, etc.

"Before They Were Gay"
Another chance to glean some meat from the Whit's vaults, always priority number one for the trustee board -- Charles Demuth, Walker Evans, early Andy, Hartley and Cadmus again, Robert Indiana, Joseph Cornell, Jasper Johns, John Cage. Whoo!

Well, there's the free advice, Mr. Weinberg. New York awaits you!

CHARLIE FINCH is author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).