The 10 Must-See Artists at the Whitney Biennial

A guide to the most exciting paintings, sculptures, videos, and live performances.

March 2, 2012

Held every March in the slate-gray Madison Avenue behemoth that the Whitney Museum will soon vacate for newer, hipper downtown digs, the Whitney Biennial is one of those exhibitions that get the whole art world talking.

Launched in 1932 as an edited Who's Who in American Art, the Biennial has helped put such luminaries as Matthew Barney, Glenn Ligon, and Cindy Sherman on the map. This year's edition is smaller than Biennials past, with 51 artists hailing from all over the United States. Performance art will play a prominent role, as it did in 2008 and 2010, with curators Jay Sanders and Elisabeth Sussman reserving the museum's entire fourth floor for music, theater, and dance (among other things) on a massive stage. The exhibition runs March 1 to May 27.
Here's the scoop on 10 not-to-be-missed artists and their work.

Mike Kelley
In what's sure to be one of the more buzzed-about outings in this year's edition, Kelley, the famed mad-scientist-esque artist (who died in January of an apparent suicide at the age of 57) will exhibit a work called "The Mobile Homestead", a series of videos shot in 2010 and featuring a house on wheels modeled after the Detroit native's own childhood abode. It is pictured here in front of the Detroit Central Train Station.

Left: The Mobile Homestead in front of the abandoned Detroit Central Train Station, 2010.

Mike Kelley. Photograph by Corine Vermuelen.

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