1995 Biennial Exhibition

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

March 15 – June 25, 1995

The Little Colonel


Oil on linen

67 x 51 1/2 inches; 170 x 131 cm



Oil on linen

51 1/2 x 67 inches; 130 x 170 cm

Saturday Disaster


Oil on linen

63 x 83 inches; 160 x 211 cm

The 1995 Biennial, like those preceding it, highlights the most vital realms of our art world. The borders of that world have, this year, been stretched into Canada and Mexico a small step that acknowledges our increasingly borderless culture. There are many languages seen in this exhibition, each one unique to the artist. This variety of visual expression is an apt reflection of the diversity of our culture. 


Rather than specific themes or subjects, the exhibition empha-sizes art's metaphorical functions. Comments 1995 Biennial curator Klaus Kertess, "The artist draws us into understanding by creating new combinations of meaning. And, if we let our eyes be willingly stirred, we will see more light than shade." 


The 1995 Biennial and its tour to Prague are sponsored by Philip Morris Companies Inc.


This exhibition is made possible by generous grants from Emily Fisher Landau, Eileen and Peter Norton and The Norton Family Foundation, The Greenwall Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, and Susan and Edwin Malloy. 


Artists in the exhibition 
Peggy Ahwesh, Karim AInouz, Lawrence Andrews, David Armstrong, Hima B., Matthew Barney, James Bishop, Roddy Bogawa, Gregg Bordowitz, Stan Brakhage, Emily Breer, Peter Cain, Shu Lea Cheang, Cheryl Donegan, Stan Douglas, Carroll Dunham, Nicole Eisenman, Jeanne C. Finley, Jane Freilicher, Julio Galán, Ellen Gallagher, Harry Gamboa Jr., Joe Gibbons, Nan Goldin, DeeDee Halleck, Thomas Allen Harris, Bessie Harvey, Todd Haynes, Peter Hutton, Ken Jacobs, Jim Jarmusch, Tom Kalin, Mike Kelley, Toba Khedoori, Lewis Klahr, David Knudsvig, Harriet Korman, Greer Lankton, Elizabeth Le Compte / The Wooster Group, Barry Le Va, Siobhan Liddell, Judy Linn, Andrew Lord, Paul McCarthy, David McDermott & Peter McGough, Brice Marden, Helen Marden, Agnes Martin, Frank Moore, Stephen Mueller, Catherine Murphy, Frances Negron-Muntaner, Andrew Noren, Catherine Opie ,John O'Reilly, Gabriel Orozco, Raphael Montanez Ortiz, Jack Pierson, Lad Pittman, Scott Rankin, Charles Ray, Michael Rees, Milton Resnick, Sam Reveles, Jason Rhoades, Nancy Rubins, Robert Ryman, Peter Saul, Christian Schumann, Richard Serra, Cindy Sherman, Gretchen Stoeltje, Margie Strosser, Philip Taaffe, Diana Thater, Leslie Thornton, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Alan Turner, Cy Twombly, Willie Varela, Jeff Wail, Nari Ward, Lawrence Weiner, Sue Williams, Terry Winters, Andrea Zittell, Joe Zucker 


Fourth Floor March 15 June 15 

Toba Khedoori, Harriet Korman, Barry Le Va, Judy Linn, Andrew Lord, Brice Marden, Helen Marden, Stephen Mueller, Lari Pittman, Milton Resnick, Sam Reveles, Jason Rhoades, Richard Serra, Philip Taaffe, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Cy Twombly, Terry Winters, Andrea Zittell 


Dominating the fourth floor are abstract artists, among them a group of painters who employ a linear gesturality that builds on the tradition of Abstract Expressionism, including Harriet Korman, Sam Reveles, and Brice Marden. The looping of Marden's Chinese calligraphy-inspired paintings is as likely to reverberate with the forces of nature as with images of goddesses. Philip Taaffe and Stephen Mueller paint with a lushness and precision of form that look to Asian arts and crafts in their search for spirituality, whereas Lari Pittman's hyper-decorativeness bristles with the cliched icons of consumerism and homosexuality in art that seeks empowerment through exaggeration. Rirkrit Tiravanija's installations focus on the basic participation asked of the viewer by the artists' acts as host (here, as the instigator of a serenade). More restrained is the casual perfection of Judy Linn's photographic compositions. 


And sculpture moves from the reinvention of the monumental to new domesticity. Richard Serra gives form to the dynamics of making by visually embodying an interdependence of weight, mass, gravity, and form. Barry Le Va continues to explode the objecthood of sculpture, a task that has engaged him since the mid- 1960s, but his geometric space markers have taken on an emotionally foreboding destabilization. More gregariously frenetic, the younger Jason Rhoades pushes the site-specific sculpture of Le Va and his peers toward explicit narratives about crowded, mock bazaars. And Andrea Zittell takes sculpture right into furniture, with her Bauhaus-inspired living units.

Third Floor March 18 June 4

David Armstrong, Matthew Barney, Peter Cain, Carroll Dunham, Nicole Eisenman, Julio Galan, Nan Goldin, Bessie Harvey, Greer Lankton, Frank Moore, Catherine Opie, John O'Reilly, Michael Rees, Nancy Rubins, Peter Saul, Christian Schumann, Cindy Sherman, Alan Turner, Jeff Wall, Nan Ward, Sue Williams 


The third floor is dominated by the exploration of the figure, from self-portraiture to self-metamorphosis to self-transformation, which assumes various roles in narrative and allegory. Matthew Barney transforms himself into a crusader in a cosmo-comic realm that combines myth, science fiction, geology, biology, and technology. Julio Galan paints himself as an androgyne, at once demonic and angelic. Sue Williams pits the physical and verbal abusiveness of her subjects against the physical gratification of her painting process. Peter Saul skewers the commercialization of spirituality in his part Surreal, part Pop tableaux. And Nan Goldin lovingly exposes the youthful rites of passage of a Western-influenced, Japanese subculture.


A number of artists diminish the distinctions between abstraction and figuration, in both painting and sculpture. Alan Turner's amalgam of body parts and Peter Cain's contractions of cars are almost as abstract as Carroll Dunham's delinquent, glandular forms engaged in quasi-narrative dialogue or Michael Rees' metaphoric genetics. Bessie Harvey's celebrations of Afro-Christianity, composed of found wood, partake of the same abstract, baroque exuberance as Nancy Rubins' cloud of mattresses and cake. And Nan Ward transforms oven pans into a nighttime sky, extruding dark beauty from street detritus. 


Second-Floor Film/Video Gallery March 23 June 18 
Works by 35 filmmakers and video artists will be shown in the Biennial. Film and Video Curator John G. Hanhardt notes in his catalogue essay that a new generation of artists uses narrative and non-narrative structures that defy established film and media practice. Their expressive language, Hanhardt says, is developed from "the raw material of experience, the nature of the gesture, the stylistics of artifice, the small stories of reality, the manipula-tion of the image, the exposure of sexuality, the varieties of cultural experiences and languages of culture, the deconstruction of information, the eruption of AIDS, the sexuality of love."