Ralph Lemon, Untitled, 2021. Oil and acrylic on paper, 26 × 40 in. (66.1 × 101.6 cm). Courtesy the artist
Sixty-three artists and collectives selected for eightieth edition
The Whitney Museum of American Art announced that sixty-three artists and collectives will be participating in Whitney Biennial 2022: Quiet as It’s Kept, co-organized by two Whitney curators, David Breslin and Adrienne Edwards. This will be the eightieth iteration in the long-running series of annual and biennial exhibitions launched by the Museum’s founder, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, in 1932. The 2022 Biennial takes over most of the Whitney from April 6 through September 5, with portions of the exhibition and some programs continuing through October 23, 2022.
Breslin and Edwards remarked: “The Whitney Biennial is an ongoing experiment, the result of a shared commitment to artists and the work they do. We began planning for this exhibition, originally slated to open in 2021, almost a year before the 2020 election, before the pandemic and shutdown with their reeling effects, before the uprisings demanding racial justice and before the questioning of institutions and their structures. While many of these underlying conditions are not new, their overlapping, intensity, and sheer ubiquity created a context in which past, present, and future folded into one another. We’ve organized the exhibition to reflect these precarious and improvised times. The Biennial primarily serves as a forum for artists, and the works that will be presented reflect their enigmas, the things that perplex them, the important questions they are asking.”
The 2022 Biennial features dynamic contributions that take different forms over the course of the presentation: artworks—even walls—change, and performance animates the galleries and objects. With a roster of artists at all points in their careers, the Biennial surveys the art of these times through an intergenerational group, many with an interdisciplinary perspective, and the curators have chosen not to have a separate performance or video and film program. Rather, these forms are integrated into the exhibition with an equal and consistent presence in the galleries.
The majority of the exhibition takes place on the Museum’s fifth and sixth floors, which are counterpoints and act as pendants to one another: one floor is a dark labyrinth, a space of containment; and the other is a clearing, open and light-filled. The former also contains an antechamber, a space of reserve. The dynamics of borders and what constitutes “American” are explored by artists from Mexico, specifically Ciudad Juárez and Tijuana, and First Nations artists in Canada, as well as by artists born outside of North America.
“Deliberately intergenerational and interdisciplinary, the Biennial proposes that cultural, aesthetic, and political possibility begins with meaningful exchange and reciprocity,” Breslin and Edwards noted. “Rather than proposing a unified theme, we pursue a series of hunches throughout the exhibition: that abstraction demonstrates a tremendous capacity to create, share, and, sometimes withhold, meaning; that research-driven conceptual art can combine the lushness of ideas and materiality; that personal narratives sifted through political, literary, and pop cultures can address larger social frameworks; that artworks can complicate what ‘American’ means by addressing the country’s physical and psychological boundaries; and that our ‘now’ can be reimagined by engaging with under-recognized artistic models and artists we’ve lost.”
Adam D. Weinberg, the Museum’s Alice Pratt Brown Director, commented: “Curators David Breslin and Adrienne Edwards have been visiting artists over the past two years in search of the most important and relevant work. The 2022 Biennial arrives at a time haunted by a global pandemic and plagued by ongoing racial and economic inequities and polarizing politics. The artists in the exhibition challenge us to consider how these realities affect our senses of self and community and offer one of the broadest and most diverse takes on art in the United States that the Whitney has offered in many years.”
Scott Rothkopf, Senior Deputy Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, noted, “Throughout this challenging time, it’s been an inspiration and pleasure to watch David and Adrienne curate their edition of the Whitney’s enduring, signature exhibition. Their intellectual chemistry was as evident as the rigor and care they brought to their collaborations with artists. The 2022 Biennial deftly manages to reflect both the spirit of a moment and deep historical awareness—of art, our society, and the Biennial itself.”
The title of the 2022 Whitney Biennial, Quiet as It’s Kept, is a colloquialism. Breslin and Edwards were inspired by the ways novelist Toni Morrison, jazz drummer Max Roach, and artist David Hammons have invoked it in their works. The phrase is typically said prior to something— sometimes obvious—that should be kept secret.
Breslin and Edwards also chose to adorn Whitney Biennial 2022: Quiet as It’s Kept with a symbol: ) (. This inverted set of parentheses is taken from a poem written by N. H. Pritchard in May 1968. The poem’s manuscript is included in the exhibition and is reproduced in full in the exhibition’s catalogue. A highly experimental poet whose visually dynamic, text-based works strongly resemble concrete poetry, Pritchard traversed many different circles in downtown New York, from membership in Umbra—a collective of Black poets that was radical both aesthetically and politically—to the international poetry avant-garde, to the bohemian Greenwich Village of Philip Guston and Allen Ginsberg. “The symbol resonated with us in its gesturing toward openness, beyond what is contained, even toward the uncontainable. We also value its suggestion of interlude or interval,” Breslin and Edwards commented.
Whitney Biennial 2022: Quiet as It’s Kept is co-organized by David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of Curatorial Initiatives, and Adrienne Edwards, Engell Speyer Family Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs, with Gabriel Almeida Baroja, Curatorial Project Assistant, and Margaret Kross, former Senior Curatorial Assistant.
The 2022 Whitney Biennial catalogue is designed by Studio Lin. The book includes a foreword by Adam D. Weinberg and individual essays by the curators David Breslin and Adrienne Edwards. Each artist entry was either written by the respective artist or was the result of an interview with the curators that was distilled and edited. The book also features contributions by Cassandra Press, Joshua Chambers-Letson, Percival Everett, Candice Hopkins, Zakiyyah Iman Jackson, Ben Lerner, Jovanna Venegas, Simone White, and Soyoung Yoon. The catalogue is published by the Whitney Museum of American Art and distributed by Yale University Press.
Membership and Ticketing
Single tickets for the exhibition go on sale February 22, 2022. Information about Membership and early viewing opportunities, as well as general ticket information, is available at whitney.org.
Whitney Biennial 2022 is presented by Tiffany & Co.
Generous support is provided by Sotheby’s.
Generous support is also provided by Judy Hart Angelo; The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston; Elaine Graham Weitzen Foundation for Fine Arts; Lise and Michael Evans; John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation; Kevin and Rosemary McNeely, Manitou Fund; The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation; The Rosenkranz Foundation; Anne-Cecilie Engell Speyer and Robert Speyer; and the Whitney’s National Committee.
Major support is provided by The Keith Haring Foundation Exhibition Fund, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and an anonymous donor.
Significant support is provided by 2022 Biennial Committee Co-Chairs: Jill Bikoff, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Barbara and Michael Gamson, Miyoung Lee, Bernard Lumpkin, Julie Mehretu, Fred Wilson; 2022 Biennial Committee Members: Philip Aarons and Shelley Fox Aarons, Sarah Arison and Thomas Wilhelm, Candy and Michael Barasch, Alexandre and Lori Chemla, Suzanne and Bob Cochran, Jenny Brorsen and Richard DeMartini, Fairfax Dorn and Marc Glimcher, Stephen Dull, Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg, Melanie Shorin and Greg S. Feldman, Jeffrey & Leslie Fischer Family Foundation, Cindy and Mark Galant, Christy and Bill Gautreaux, Debra and Jeffrey Geller Family Foundation, Aline and Gregory Gooding, Janet and Paul Hobby, Harry Hu, Peter H. Kahng, Michèle Gerber Klein, Ashley Leeds and Christopher Harland, Dawn and David Lenhardt, Jason Li, Marjorie Mayrock, Stacey and Robert Morse, Daniel Nadler, Opatrny Family Foundation, Orentreich Family Foundation, Nancy and Fred Poses, Marylin Prince, Eleanor Heyman Propp, George Wells and Manfred Rantner, Martha Records and Richard Rainaldi, Katie and Amnon Rodan, Jonathan M. Rozoff, Linda and Andrew Safran, Subhadra and Rohit Sahni, Erica and Joseph Samuels, Carol and Lawrence Saper, Allison Wiener and Jeffrey Schackner, Jack Shear, Annette and Paul Smith, the Stanley and Joyce Black Family Foundation, Rob and Eric Thomas-Suwall, and Patricia Villareal and Tom Leatherbury; as well as the Alex Katz Foundation, Further Forward Foundation, the Kapadia Equity Fund, Gloria H. Spivak, and an anonymous donor.
Funding is also provided by special Biennial endowments created by Melva Bucksbaum, Emily Fisher Landau, Leonard A. Lauder, and Fern and Lenard Tessler.
Curatorial research and travel for this exhibition were funded by an endowment established by Rosina Lee Yue and Bert A. Lies, Jr., MD.
About the Whitney
The Whitney Museum of American Art, founded in 1930 by the artist and philanthropist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (1875–1942), houses the foremost collection of American art from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Mrs. Whitney, an early and ardent supporter of modern American art, nurtured groundbreaking artists when audiences were still largely preoccupied with the Old Masters. From her vision arose the Whitney Museum of American Art, which has been championing the most innovative art of the United States for ninety years. The core of the Whitney’s mission is to collect, preserve, interpret, and exhibit American art of our time and serve a wide variety of audiences in celebration of the complexity and diversity of art and culture in the United States. Through this mission and a steadfast commitment to artists, the Whitney has long been a powerful force in support of modern and contemporary art and continues to help define what is innovative and influential in American art today.
The Whitney Museum of American Art is located at 99 Gansevoort Street between Washington and West Streets, New York City. Public hours are: Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 10:30 am–6 pm; Friday, 10:30 am–10 pm; and Saturday and Sunday, 11 am–6 pm. Closed Tuesday. Member-only hours are: Saturday and Sunday, 10:30–11 am. Visitors eighteen years and under and Whitney members: FREE. Admission is pay-what-you-wish on Fridays, 7–10 pm.
All visitors aged 5 and older must show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 for admission to the Whitney, in accordance with New York City requirements. Visitors aged 18 and older will also be asked to show photo ID.
Effective December 27, 2021, visitors aged 12 and older must show proof of two vaccine doses or a single Johnson & Johnson dose. Those aged 5–11 must only show one vaccine dose. For complete visitor guidelines, visit whitney.org.