“LOVE IT HATE IT DONT MISS IT” reads the advertisement, as seen in New York City subway trains, for the 1997 Whitney Biennial. Judging from the crowds milling through the Whitney, the majority of visitors who have answered that call seem to be merely curiosity seekers for whom museum exhibitions are less about art than fashion. (“Be there or be square” is the show’s underlying motto.) The Biennial has, of course, lost whatever relevance it may once have had as a serious overview of contemporary American art. As a measure of the Zeitgeist, however, it is all too reliable. Suffice it to say that a show which has visitors pondering whether the “No Smoking” signs in the stairwell are works of art is one whose focus is, shall we say, lacking in aesthetic discrimination.

Curmudgeonly words, I know, and just a smattering of...

 

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