The Whitney Museum

From 2002 to 2003, Sean was a consultant at the Whitney Museum of American Art, advising curator Lawrence Rinder on ‘The American Effect: Global Perspectives on the United States, 1990 – 2003.’  This landmark exhibit — conceived before the September 11th, 2001 attacks but given new urgency by them — opened in July 2003 and sought to examine the way artists around the world engage with America.  Sean advised the curator on how to conceive and develop the social and political themes of the exhibit, select international writers for the catalogue, and survey contemporary art beyond the established international art circuit.  He also wrote an essay and annotated bibliography for the catalogue.

Click here to read Sean’s essay and annotated bibliography in the ‘The American Effect’ exhibit catalogue

Selected works from the exhibit, curated by Lawrence Rinder.

Gilles Barbier, Nursing Home, 2002

The installation by the Vanuatu-born artist Gilles Barbier of a nursing home tending to aging American superheros — a decrepit Superman using a walker, a flaccid-limbed Plastic Man — served as a wry commentary on America’s global military power.


Max Becher and Andrea Robbins, Chief from the series German Indians, 1997-98

The work of Robbins and Becher often explores cultural dislocation and the series of photographs German Indians looks at the German fascination with Native American culture inspired by the books of the early-20th century German Romantic writer Karl May.


Makoto Aida, A Picture of an Air Raid on New York City (War Pictures Returns), 1996

Japanese artist Makoto Aida completed his epic six-panel, sliding screen painting of airplanes circling over a Manhattan skyline in flames five years before the September 11th, 2001 attacks, at a time when the most resonant historical reference for the image was the WWII firebombing of Tokyo.


Danwen Xing, Untitled from the series Disconnexion, 2003

Danwen Xing looks at the modernization of her native China through the detritus of obsolete electronics that are dumped in Guangdong province, where they are stripped of usable parts and recycled.