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Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The Grotesque in Santa Fe

No, this post isn’t about the travesties committed by the hundreds of nth-generation abstract expressionists showing at galleries on Canyon Road.

Blake Gopnik published an extensive review of Site Santa Fe’s fifth biennial in last Sunday’s Washington Post. The show, curated by Robert Storr, is entitled “Disparities and Deformations: Our Grotesque.” Gopnik finds the show to be something of a novelty for a biennial:
The biennial is one of a handful of big contemporary-art surveys held in the United States. Usually these events feel like agglomerations of whatever the art world counts as new and hot, or of some curator’s all-time favorites. Storr’s version, however, comes off as a tightly coherent, almost scholarly affair.
It sounds like the show avoids the two major pitfalls of most biennials: an exhibition that is little more than an inventory (sort of an unmanaged, index fund of the current art world) or an exhibition organized by contrived themes that have been arbitrarily layered over works after they were selected for inclusion.

I probably won’t have the opportunity to see this show. If anyone reading the site does, please drop me an e-mail with your thoughts on it.

While I’m on the topic of the Post, I want to give them kudos for their creative use of photo and video features in their arts coverage. Gopnik’s review mentions Jennifer and Kevin McCoy’s digitally manipulated film Horror Chase and Kara Walker’s video Testimony. The article actually has a sidebar with links you can follow to view portions of these videos and to see a slide show of other exhibition highlights.

For a while now, Gopnik has been doing video features for the Post’s arts section, and several of them are also available from a sidebar to last Sunday’s review. Don’t miss his delightful discussion on the National Gallery’s Romare Bearden exhibition with basketball player and collector Grant Hill. (The show will be coming to the Whitney this October.)

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