Reports of two-hour waits to get into the Brucennial last night were greatly exaggerated by the time I arrived at 9 pm. I waited ten minutes- and no, I did not request a line jump because the blog has collaborated with the organizers. An uncurated, salon-style show, the Brucennial is art collective Bruce High Quality Foundation and dealer Vito Schnabel’s alternative to the ritzier Whitney Biennial uptown, which also opened last night.
I’d guess my experience of the Brucennial was similar to most. I spent all of two minutes inside the building before someone asked me what I thought, and spent the rest of my night fielding slight variations of the same question. No one I spoke to seemed to know what to say about the exhibition.
It’s the sort of head-scratching one gets with this kind of anything-goes hang, and it’s one reason I don’t love this kind of show. Viewers have to put forth a lot of effort to find the pieces they like, and the it’s too easy to miss good (or simply famous) work (in addition to the Bruces, the show includes Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Cindy Sherman, to name a few). I’m not the type who loves milling about a yard sale in search of the one lost jewel, and doing so makes me incredibly anxious. It’s exactly the kind of environment I worry will reveal me as a charlatan when I inevitably fail to find the best work in the show.
The Brucennial opening was merciful, though, in that it was clearly more party than exam. The hanging juxtapositions were fun, rather than serious, and the Bruce sensibility makes the show super accessible. As uncurated shows go, this is as good as it gets, and the Brucennial is completely worth checking out while it’s up (159 Bleecker Street, 12-6, through Sunday). My iPhone highlights, with commentary, below.