Monday, April 14, 2008

To Biennial or Not to Biennial

Kyle MacMillan over at the Denver Post asks and raises some really good points over the need for the new Denver Biennial. Kyle writes:

At least 50 major biennials take place internationally, and more are being added to the list all the time, making it easy to wonder: How many biennials are too many? And with each new one, isn't the drawing power of such events becoming increasingly diluted?
Read the whole article here.

Washington's Corcoran Gallery of Art hosts the Corcoran Biennial, which they've hosted for many years. The biennial used to be strictly focused on painting, and as such it had a good niche in the overflowing scene of world biennials - it was just a biennial to sample the state of contemporary painting.

Unfortunately, in my opinion (which is generally not shared by many museum curators or probably other art writers), under the guidance of former Corcoran curator Terry Sultan, the Corcoran Biennial was "modernized" to become just like every other biennial and overly expanded to include everything that passes as fine art these days.

The result? Now the Corcoran Biennial is just another one of the 50+ biennials around the world, desperately lacking focus and usually bringing to DC a lot of art and artists recycled from other biennials plus a severe sprinkling of "newish" work.

In my opinion it would have been better to resist the temptation to expand to become a Jack of all art trades and keep it focused on the state of contemporary painting in all its vampirical refusals to die.