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Whitney Biennial

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by Joann Jovinelly (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer/photographer living in the East Village neighborhood of New York City.
Every other year since the 1970s, the Whitney Museum has staged its sampling of the world's most up-and-coming, most experimental, and, as some art critics like to note, most mixed survey of contemporary art. Part of the fun is guessing who might be selected. This year's pared down collection displays the works of just 55 artists (down from more than 100 in past exhibits) and promises to cause as much pause in New York's flashy art world as ever.

The annual Biennial exhibit at the Whitney is a longer tradition that dates back to 1932, the first year that the museum's founder, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, hand-picked a selection of rising young artists and launched many a meaningful career. (The Biennial was changed to every other year in 1973, and then switched to even-numbered years to coincide with the millennium in 2000.)

This year's exhibit appears on the first four floors of the museum and features works by David Adamo, Dawn Clements, Julia Fish, Roland Flexner, Jim Lutes, Kelly Nipper, Charles Ray, Aurel Schmidt, Pae White (whose work, "Smoke Knows" 2009, is shown above), and many more groundbreaking artists.

In addition, the Whitney is proud to present more well known artists from past Biennials, as if to say, "You saw them here first, folks." Known for their ability to strike a chord with art lovers, among the artists on display on the fifth floor include some major American icons of painting: Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Julian Schnabel, Edward Hopper, and photographer Cindy Sherman.

To complete your experience, stop by the museum's new renovated eatery, now being run by restauranteur Danny Meyer of Union Square Café and Shake Shack fame. Bring in the new with the old as you rub elbows with members of New York's art crowd and then stop by the Whitney store to purchase some cool artsy items to impress your friends.
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Why? Because February is a fine time to catch a rising (art) star.
When: Opens February 25, (Closed Mondays/Tuesdays)
Where: Whitney Museum, 945 Madison Avenue (at 75th Street)
Cost: $18 Adults ($12 for 19-25); Pay-what-you-wish every Friday 6-9PM
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