2 | 3 |
4 | 5 |
department of art trains ambitious students to be thoughtful rabble-rousers
biennial exhibition at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art
is invariably the object of intense criticism: one year it’s excoriated
for being more concerned with political correctness than aesthetic
significance; the next time around, it’s dismissed for lacking a
challenging point of view. Yet surprisingly, no one seems to have
protested that the 1997 Whitney show was too focused on UCLA.
nearly a third of the UCLA art department’s faculty was included
in last year’s exhibition is remarkable enough; more astonishing
still is the number of recent UCLA graduates, including [tk: a few
names], who also got the nod from the biennial’s co-curators, Lisa
Phillips of the Whitney and Louise Neri, U.S. editor of the internationally
respected journal Parkett.
a barometer of the prevailing currents roiling the always-agitated
American art scene, the Whitney Biennial, whatever its faults, is
about as reliable as you can get. And Los Angeles Times art critic
Christopher Knight sums up the message of the most recent outing:
“At any given moment in the art world, there’s a ‘buzz,’ and right
now the buzz is about UCLA.”
the vigilance with which New York jealously guards its position
as the center of the artistic universe, one might reasonably ask,
How did UCLA become the hottest art school in the country? In the
view of many informed observers, the evolution began when the department
appointed Chris Burden in the late 1980s.
who garnered international prominence as a performance artist in
the 1970s, quickly began to open doors in Westwood for other artists
of his generation. “Chris, painter Roger Herman and multimedia artist
Charles Ray were already here when I arrived in 1991,” recalls Henry
Hopkins, director of the Armand Hammer Museum and the department’s
chair during its rise to preeminence in the first half of this decade.