The new "Test Pattern" exhibition at the Whitney Museum showcases work acquired by the institution within the last four years, most of which was made during the last five years by emerging and midcareer artists.
Curated by senior curatorial assistant Laura Phipps and curatorial assistant Nicholas Robbins, the show includes pieces by a vibrant array of young artists like Michele Abeles, Tauba Auerbach, Mathew Cerletty, Leslie Hewitt, Meredyth Sparks, Lucy Raven, Nick Mauss, and Kaari Upson, ranging from photography to ceramic work. It says something when Rachel Harrison, a well-established and hugely influential midcareer sculptor, counts as the veteran in the group—and she's represented by one of her early photographic pieces from the eerie 2000 "Perth Amboy" series, made when she was 34 and was beginning to gain attention as one of the young Turks included in the first "Greater New York" show at P.S.1. Walead Beshty, also now a major player in the art scene, has work in the show as well.
"It seemed like the right moment to showcase these efforts by organizing an exhibition around these works, not only to make the museum's collection of recent art more visible, but also hopefully to contextualize these works within our present moment and within the museum’s collection," curators Phipps and Robbins told Artspace via e-mail. The theme of the exhibition, "Test Pattern," came from the two studying recent acquisitions and searching for a defining narrative. "Much of the work we looked at displayed an interest in visual information and its interaction with the surface of the artwork—in particular, a seemingly conscious effort to work against the easy legibility of images toward a more complicated, layered, and nuanced form of visual communication," they said. The exhibition's title comes from an actual work in the show, in which a film projector's test pattern makes for an apt commentary on the standardization of images.
"We liked that both words—'test' and 'pattern'—to play against each other, in that the works represent the continual testing, experimentation, and invention of artists, while 'pattern' suggests the heightened presence of surface and opticality in these works."
Click through the slideshow above to see images and installation shots from the show, which is on view through December 1.