The Whitney Museum of American Art has announced its curators for the 2021 Whitney Biennial. David Breslin and Adrienne Edwards, both currently members of the museum’s curatorial staff, will co-curate the mega show.
The Whitney Biennial is one of the major events in the American art world, and it strives to be a microcosm of its cultural moment. “Each Biennial is a reflection of the cultural and social moment as it intersects with the passions, perspectives, and tastes of the curators,” Adam D. Weinberg, director of the Whitney, said in a statement on Monday.
David Breslin first joined the museum in 2016 as curator and director of the collection, though he’ll be transitioning this month to a new role as curator and director of curatorial initiatives. Prior to his work at the Whitney, he worked for the Menil Drawing Institute in Houston and at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Adrienne Edwards has been the museum’s curator of performance since 2018; before that she served as curator of the New York nonprofit Performa and as a curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
In his statement, Weinberg added:
David and Adrienne will be a great team. They are inquisitive, curious, and are acutely attuned to the art of the current moment. No doubt they will bring fresh outlooks to this historic exhibition and reinvent it for these complex and challenging times.
The last two Biennials, in 2017 and 2019, found themselves mired in controversy, and 2021’s edition will no doubt be scrupulously watched as a result. In 2017, Dana Schutz’s portrait of Emmett Till sparked protests. Earlier this year, a multi-part saga of dissension that was spurred by board member Warren Kanders’s ties to Safariland—a defense company which manufactures, among other things, tear gas that was used against asylum-seekers at the U.S.–Mexico border—led to eight artists demanding their work be removed from the 2019 Biennial. Eventually Kanders stepped down, and the artists reversed their decision.
The 2019 Biennial partially closed just weeks ago, though the show’s remaining floor will be on view through October 27th. The 2019 edition was co-curated by Jane Panetta and Rujeko Hockley, also two staffers at the museum.