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The Whitney Art Party tops the list as of one of the most important charity events to attend in New York City. The benefit, organized by the Whitney Contemporaries to benefit the Independent Study Program and other education initiatives, continues to feature an impressive and dynamic array of works by many of today’s leading and cutting-edge contemporary artists.
This year, the annual party and auction moved in a savvy new direction by partnering with the online platform Artsy to host an e-commerce pre-sale. In hopes of broadening their collector base, the site features 62 works and allows international audiences access to the event. The actual party, held on May 1, is sure to be a sensation. In anticipation, we wanted to offer a preview of three artists participating in the event.
Brooklyn-based artist Amy Globus made a name for herself through Electric Sheep (2001-2002), an audio-visual recording of two octopuses shot from different angles as they transmuted their bodies through narrow glass tubes. A faint adaptation of Emmylou Harris’ “Wrecking Ball” serves as a soundtrack as the creatures maneuver their malleable forms. Both the music and lyrics blend into the melodious movements, creating a sincere and haunting depiction of entrapment and desire. Untitled, Video Still (2012), featured in the auction, is a continuation of the artist’s fascination with creating aberrant multi-sensory experiences. In this piece, molten plasticine is transformed into a metrical composition, creating a peculiar scene that unites weird with whimsical and beauty with bizarre. Globus continues to excite audiences through her anti-poetic mixed media installation and sculptures that flawlessly address pertinent themes such as mortality, sexuality, loneliness, and love.
No other contemporary artist has redefined the concept of anecdotal narratives quite like Ellen Jong. She first gained notoriety with her prolific series “Pees on Earth,” featuring photographs of the artist urinating in public. The high-quality images, wrought with humor, intellect, and self-exploration, offer the viewer an intimate look into the personal, raw, and unapologetic themes that mark Jong’s work. Millenium (2013), her donation to the auction, was taken on December 31, 1999 in Puerto Escondido, Mexico during the last sunset of the millennium. The piece serves as the artist’s territorial claim on the last 1000 years and is a compelling reminder of the timeless virtues inherent in both experience and art. When asked about the chaste physicality of her pictures, Jong offered, “In retrospect, the series reveals myself as a found object – one that is feminine and always in discovery.” Indeed, it is Jong’s unique manner of creating art (almost as an afterthought) that gives her work the exciting and untainted creative edge most of us are looking for.
Instead of focusing on a specific process or medium, Daniel Newman’s art functions as commentary on the unexpected occurrences that inevitably lead to experience. Through video installation, digital photo-montage, collage, and drawing, he attempts to outline parallels and find patterns in the unexpected undertakings and capricious elements that have come to define his life. In his Whitney Art Party work, Eyes II (2012), Newman used his personalized expressionistic painting technique to render this enigmatic and haunting piece. Almost entirely monochromatic, the figure is essentially unrecognizable except for a faint outline and boldly lit eyes. These broken details and complicated interpretations allude to the concentrated depth and hidden meanings layered within his work. Idiosyncratic elements such as this reveal an air of humor and fragility in Newman’s skillful, yet eerie visual representations. Most importantly, they shed light on the fascinating and erratic world that surrounds us.