The next edition of the Whitney Biennial, arguably the most important art exhibition of its kind in the United States, has been postponed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Whitney Museum in New York announced on Thursday. Having previously been dated for the spring of 2021, it is now expected to open in April 2022 and run through August of that year.
The postponement means that the Whitney Biennial has gone the way of the Venice Biennale in Italy, the Biennale de Lyon in France, and the Front International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, three other high-profile biennial-style shows that were pushed from 2021 to 2022. The New Museum Triennial, another closely watched show of the kind, had been initially dated for 2021 as well, but it is no longer listed as such on the New York institution’s website.
In a statement, Adam Weinberg, the Whitney’s director, said that the biennial’s curators had continued pushing forward despite the museum having been closed from March through most of September. “Though we were closed for nearly six months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, our work on the Museum’s program has continued uninterrupted,” he said.
Those curators are Adrienne Edwards and David Breslin, both of whom were relatively new hires when they were picked to organize the Whitney Biennial.
Because of the pandemic, few biennials scheduled to open editions this year and the next have gone forward as planned. Major exhibitions expected to open this year, such as the Gwangju Biennale in South Korea, the Bienal de São Paulo in Brazil, Sonsbeek in the Netherlands, and Prospect New Orleans, moved their editions back one year.
Alongside the delay of the Whitney Biennial came some other unfortunate news: A Jasper Johns retrospective initially planned for this fall has been re-dated. That exhibition, which is set to feature 500 works split across simultaneous showings at the Whitney and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, will now open in September 2021.