Born in Bessemer, Alabama in 1939, Jack Whitten is celebrated for his innovative processes of applying paint to the surface of his canvases and transfiguring their material terrains. Although Whitten initially aligned with the New York circle of abstract expressionists active in the 1960s, his work gradually distanced from the movement’s aesthetic philosophy and formal concerns, focusing more intensely on the experimental aspects of process and technique that came to define his practice.Read More
The subtle visual tempos and formal techniques embedded in Whitten’s work speak to the varied contexts of his early life. After a brief period studying medicine at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in the late 1950s, Whitten pivoted his attentions to art, first attending the Southern University in Baton Rouge before moving to New York and enrolling at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in 1960, where he earned his BFA degree.
In the 1970s, Whitten’s experiments with the materiality of paint reached a climax–removing a thick slab of acrylic paint from its support, Whitten realised that the medium could be coaxed into the form of an independent object. Whitten used this mode of experimentation to challenge pre-existing notions of dimensionality in painting, repeatedly layering slices of acrylic ribbon in uneven fields of wet paint to mimic the application of mosaic tessarae to wet masonry. Over the course of a five decade career, Whitten’s work bridged rhythms of gestural abstraction and process art, arriving at a nuanced language of painting, which hovers between mechanical automation and intensely personal expression.
Text courtesy Hauser & Wirth.
In 2018, artists and curators across the United States have been crafting brilliant exhibitions across the US, exploring themes of identity and community in innovative ways. Ebony G. Patterson made a maximalist tribute to victims of violence in her home country of Jamaica, while Joel Otterson crafted work recalling his parents' professions as a...
In 1985, abstract artist Jack Whitten wrote in his studio log, 'I WANT TO PUT THE MAGIC BACK IN PAINTING.' With surfaces that ripple, crack, and glisten, as though a light underneath is seeping through, Whitten’s paintings are certainly magical. His ability to create this impression primarily using acrylic paint alone—through an extremely complex...
BALTIMORE-All human beings contain secret selves. While we cultivate a public persona to attain resources and maximise success, our covert self encloses inferiorities, base desires, and inner wildness. In Odyssey: Jack Whitten Sculpture, 1963-2017, the landmark exhibition of master artist Jack Whitten at the Baltimore Museum of Art, a contrast...
In March, a little more than a month after the artist Jack Whitten died at the age of 78, his gallery Hauser & Wirth presented a four-week display of Whitten's final painting at its location in the old Dia building in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood.
Panel discussion with Jack Whitten, exhibition curator Richard Shiff and Mark Rappolt, Editor of Art Review. On the occasion of the exhibition More Dimensions Than You Know: Jack Whitten, 1979–1989, Hauser & Wirth London, 27 September–18 November 2017.
Jack Whitten talks to Frieze about his life and work in his studio in Queens, New York, on the occasion of his exhibition More Dimensions Than You Know: Jack Whitten, 1979–1989, Hauser & Wirth London, 27 September–18 November 2017. A Zapote and Scenic Production