David Breslin, Adrienne Edwards to curate 2021 Whitney Biennial

Adrienne Edwards and David Breslin. Image courtesy of the Whitney Museum of American Art

NEW YORK – The Whitney Museum of American Art announced Monday that its 2021 Biennial will be co-organized by two members of the museum’s curatorial department, David Breslin and Adrienne Edwards. This will be the biennial’s 80th edition. The exhibition will open in spring 2021.

“The central aim of the biennial is to be a barometer of contemporary American art. Each biennial is a reflection of the cultural and social moment as it intersects with the passions, perspectives, and tastes of the curators. 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,” said Adam D. Weinberg, Whitney director.

Initiated by founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1932, the Whitney Biennial is the longest-running survey of American art. More than 3,600 artists have participated.

The biennials were originally organized by medium, with painting alternating with sculpture and works on paper. Starting in 1937, the museum shifted to yearly exhibitions called Annuals. The current format—a survey show of work in all media occurring every two years—has been in place since 1973. The 2019 Biennial (still on partial view on the museum’s sixth floor until Oct. 27) was organized by two Whitney curators, Jane Panetta and Rujeko Hockley. It featured 75 artists and collectives working in painting, sculpture, installation, film and video, photography, performance and sound.

The 2021 Whitney Biennial is presented by Tiffany & Co., which has been the lead sponsor of the Biennial since the Museum’s move downtown.

David Breslin was recently named the DeMartini Family Curator and Director of Curatorial Initiatives, a role he will assume this month. Since joining the Museum in 2016, Breslin has spearheaded the Museum’s collection-related activities, curating a series of major collection exhibitions and overseeing acquisitions. Breslin came to the Whitney from the Menil Drawing Institute, where he created an ambitious program of exhibitions and public and scholarly events and helped to shape the design of the Institute’s new facility. He also oversaw work on the catalogue raisonné of the drawings of Jasper Johns and grew the collection.

In 2018, Adrienne Edwards was named Engell Speyer Family Curator and Curator of Performance at the Whitney. Previously, she served as curator of Performa since 2010 and as curator at large for the Walker Art Center since 2016.