Who Has the Most Artists in the Whitney Biennial? These Non-Blue-Chip Galleries Represent More Than a Quarter of the Show
These might not be mega-galleries with billion-dollar budgets, but they're churning out some of the most exciting new artists working today.
Company Gallery, a small outfit on the Lower East Side, has a whopping four artists in this year’s edition of the Whitney Biennial. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, that figure represents a little less than 50 percent of the gallery’s entire nine-artist roster.
Inclusion in a high-profile exhibition like the Whitney Biennial can be a career-maker for artists—but it can also offer a major boost for galleries, particularly midsize and smaller outfits that have been supporting under-the-radar artists for years. Curious to see which galleries have the most artists included in this year’s biennial, and where you might go to see the art stars of the future? We have you covered. Here is a handy primer below.
Barbara Hammer, John Edmonds, Tiona Nekkia McClodden, Troy Michie
Year established: 2014
Locations: Two in the Lower East Side of New York City
Roster size: 9
Participating artists: Four—Barbara Hammer, John Edmonds, Tiona Nekkia McClodden, and Troy Michie
What you should know: The gallery was founded by Sophie Mörner (who previously ran the artist space Capricious 88), and was later joined by Andrew Durbin, whose since decamped to head up Frieze’s American editorial arm; since then, veteran gallerist Elizabeth Lamb joined as a director and Taylor Trabulus came on in March. Mörner is a photographer herself (and married to sculptor Cajsa von Zeipel); she runs the art-book publisher Capricious in addition to the gallery.
Familiar names on the roster include EJ Hill, whose neon text and performance work made him a star of the 2018 Hammer Biennial “Made in LA”; Raúl de Nieves, who was a star at the 2017 Whitney Biennial and whose merry-go-round was the coup de grâce at Art Basel Miami Beach. No slouch at art fairs, Company’s solo presentation of Jonathan Lyndon Chase earned the gallery the Frame Stand Prize at Frieze New York earlier this month. At the upcoming Liste fair in Basel, the gallery will mount a solo presentation of work by Hayden Dunham.
C L E A R I N G
Korakrit Arunanondchai, Meriem Bennani, Calvin Marcus
Location(s): Three—One location in New York’s Upper East Side, one in Brooklyn, and one in Brussels
Roster size: 20
Participating artists: Three—Korakrit Arunanondchai, Meriem Bennani, and Calvin Marcus
What you should know: Founder Olivier Babin set up shop in Brooklyn back in 2011 and expanded to Brussels in 2014. The gallery gave artists Harold Ancart, Korakrit Arunanondchai, Marina Pinsky, and Calvin Marcus their first-ever gallery shows. Arunanondchai (a very, very busy artist) also has work in Ralph Rugoff’s exhibition at the Venice Biennale, on view through November, and was a finalist for the Future Generation Art Prize, also on view in Venice. Elsewhere in New York, Ancart has teamed up with the Public Art Fund to design a sculpture inspired by a handball court in Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza; it is on display through March 2020.
Janiva Ellis, Josh Kline, Elle Pérez
Location(s): One location in New York City
Roster size: 19
Participating artists: Three—Janiva Ellis, Josh Kline, and Elle Pérez
What you should know: The gallery began in 2009 as a project space dreamed up by artist Margaret Lee as a party venue and alternative art space; later, she brought on boyfriend Oliver Newton, a veteran of Alexander and Bonin, to run the more formalized 47 Canal alongside her. The initial conceit was to serve as a venue for artists’ first solo shows in New York. Lee is also a founding member of Art Against Displacement, an anti-gentrification organization that works with those at risk of losing their homes or livelihoods.
Since its early days, the gallery has shown artists including Anicka Yi and Trevor Shimizu, plus the three Whitney participants, who are among the buzziest creators working now. Elle Pérez has work included in the Aperture Foundation’s new show “Orlando,” curated by Tilda Swinton, and will have their photographs displayed at New York City bus stations as part of a Public Art Fund initiative, while Kline has a solo show at the gallery through June 9. 47 Canal will also be showing work at Art Basel in June and at Frieze Sculpture in London, which opens in October.
Location(s): Two in Los Angeles
Roster size: 41
Participating artists: Three—Nicole Eisenman, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, and Wangechi Mutu
What you should know: German native Susanne Vielmetter first set up shop in Los Angeles when the West Coast market was still burgeoning. In 2018, she opened a second branch in Los Angeles. (For a few years in the early aughts, Vielmetter also operated a project space in Berlin.) The three artists currently in the Whitney Biennial are among the most established of the entire exhibition, and the rest of the gallery roster reads like a who’s who of the art world, including Sadie Benning, Andrea Bowers, Mickalene Thomas, and Arlene Shechet.
There are too many upcoming projects for Vielmetter’s artists to name, but a few highlights include Edgar Arceneaux’s new play “Boney Manilli,” which opens at the Ford Theater in August; Eisenman’s inclusion in the exhibition “May You Live in Interesting Times” at the Venice Biennale; and Rodney McMillian’s solo show at SFMOMA, which runs through June 9. Plus, look out for Vielmetter at the upcoming Art Basel in Switzerland. Come October, Pope.L’s solo exhibition opens at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
Location(s): One in New York City
Roster size: 27
Participating artists: Two—Jeffrey Gibson and Jennifer Packer
What you should know: Brent Sikkema founded the gallery as Wooster Gardens—named after its original location on Wooster Street—and in 1999 relocated to West 22nd Street in Chelsea, later bringing on Michael Jenkins as a senior partner. The gallery’s roster features big names like Kara Walker and Sheila Hicks as well as fast-rising photographers including Nikki S. Lee and Deana Lawson.
In addition to his inclusion at the Whitney, Jeffrey Gibson’s solo show “The Anthropophagic Effect” is on at the New Museum through June 9, while Jennifer Packer will have her first solo show on the West Coast next year at MOCA LA’s Geffen Contemporary Center. The gallery’s biggest news (literally) is that Kara Walker is slated to take over Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall for its 2019 commission, debuting this fall.
Location(s): One in New York City
Roster size: 11
Participating artists: Two—Ragen Moss and Martine Syms
What you should know: Bridget Donahue started her eponymous gallery in Chinatown after stints at other galleries including Gladstone, D’Amelio Terras, and Gavin Brown’s enterprise. Like many other galleries on this list, Donahue maintains an artist stable that is small but packs a punch—Sondra Perry, Lynn Hershman Leeson, and Mark Van Yetter have been showing with her for years. The gallery also had two artists in the 2017 Whitney Biennial, Susan Cianciolo and Jessi Reaves.
In the 2019 edition, Ragen Moss’s multimedia sculptures are included alongside similarly genre-defying works by artists like Eric Mack and Tomashi Jackson, and Martine Syms has an entire small room for her installation, which features video monitors and site-specific paintings that comment on the precarious safety of an internet-age world.
Location(s): One in Los Angeles
Participating artists: Two—Brian Belott and Eric N. Mack
Roster size: 19
What you should know: The gallery was founded by Al Morán as OHWOW, and underwent a rebranding as Moran Bondaroff when Aaron Bondaroff came on board, though he’s since left the gallery amid accusations of sexual misconduct. After that, the gallery rebranded again and is now run by Al and his brother Mills under the name Móran Móran with a roster that includes Diana Al-Hadid, Keltie Ferris, and the estate of Robert Mapplethorpe. In addition to Brian Belott, the gallery is getting a lot of air time thanks to Eric N. Mack, who has made the rounds at big-name group shows including the New Museum Triennial and Desert X, plus a solo show at the Brooklyn Museum on view through August.
Coming up in June, the gallery is partnering with Mitchell-Innes & Nash and the Spain-based Lundgren Gallery for a large-scale installation by Jacolby Satterwhite, a rising star who recently collaborated with Solange for her new music video.
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