Just when you think you know what it’s doing, art has the nasty and endearing habit of veering in a completely different direction, turning back on itself and throwing you, Alice-style, down a chute into wonderlands. Consider: a Depression-era bank has time-traveled to ZieherSmith; a cavernous cruise ship casino has crashed into Gladstone; a rabbit’s warren of dingy, sinister rooms has displaced Marlborough Chelsea; and a suburban home has taken up residence in the Pierogi Boiler.
What happened? Just a few months ago, the Whitney Biennial argued that the past decade’s excesses had passed. It celebrated modestly scaled art, exemplified by Andrew Masullo’s compact abstract paintings, K8 Hardy’s fashion photos and Vincent Fecteau’s cement and clay confections. That, as it turned out, was wishful thinking. The new season has delivered a bumper-crop of full-on, intensely immersive, gallery-filling installations.