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The Whitney Biennial, which was inaugurated in 1932, once again works by promising us what is new, challenging, and — with luck — of lasting interest. The promise involves finding the right frame and purpose, such as scientists find in the use of a cross-section. Slice into contemporary art and lay out what most rivets, without fear or favor, label it, study its energies, and try to bear accurate account of what it’s made of. Then it’s reviewed and talked about and disputed — a cross section of a cross section. A two-year survey of what is an impossibly various assortment of works and practitioners of the visual and plastic arts, from the jackanapes to the genius, from the ravishing object to the puzzling proposal. It can’t be taken in; it will be taken in.

This year’s version runs from mid-March to June 11th. Delayed a year and a half because of the opening of the museum’s downtown building, this biennial starts a new run, lulling us into memories of the previous shows and yet promising a new place where the art is somehow still aborning. Recovering from this small interruption of its run of 73 yearly or bi-yearly shows, the Whitney looks to make the 2017 issue an especially memorable one. As Jason Farago put it in The New York Times:

In a generational shift, the Whitney has chosen two young curators for this always anticipated exhibition: Christopher Y. Lew, 36, and Mia Locks, 34. It’s also the first time that the biennial’s curators are both people of color. After months on the road, they have boiled down the art of the last few years into a survey that, for all its energy, doesn’t overwhelm the museum.

More… “The Whitney Biennial of 2017”

Charles Molesworth has published a number of books on modern literature. His most recent book is The Capitalist and the Critic: J.P. Morgan, Roger Fry and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (U. of Texas).
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If you were stuck in 23-hour daily lockdown in a federal prison, you might think a book would be a most welcome companion. You might think it would take a lot to make you despise that book. But Barrett Brown begs: “Stop sending me Jonathan Franzen novels.” (The Intercept)

Imagine Gregor Samsa from The Metamorphosis. If you read it in English, you may see a cockroach or a giant beetle, but that may not be as Kafka intended. And Vladimir Nabokov didn’t care. (Open Culture)

While Pixar’s shiny, cartoonish animation style has an avid fan base, old-style hand animation has a charm that just can’t be replicated without hours of frame-by-frame work — until now. Microsoft has just unveiled a new tool that simplifies and digitizes the process, and it’s mesmerizing to watch. (Wired)

Maren Larsen is the associate editor of The Smart Set. She is a digital journalism student, college radio DJ, and outdoor enthusiast.
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