Jack Whitten

 

Paintings

 1970s
Untitled (1970)
Acrylic on linen
25.63h x 23.75w in (65.1h x 60.33w cm)
Untitled (1970)
Acrylic on linen
25.63h x 23.75w in (65.1h x 60.33w cm)
Slip Zone (1971)
Acrylic on canvas
39.13h x 39.25w in (99.39h x 99.7w cm)
Slip Zone (1971)
Acrylic on canvas
39.13h x 39.25w in (99.39h x 99.7w cm)
First Testing Slab (1972)
Acrylic on canvas
53.38h x 70.38w in (135.59h x 178.77w cm)
First Testing Slab (1972)
Acrylic on canvas
53.38h x 70.38w in (135.59h x 178.77w cm)
Fourth Testing (Slab) (1972)
Acrylic on canvas
35.25h x 34.5w in (89.54h x 87.63w cm)
Fourth Testing (Slab) (1972)
Acrylic on canvas
35.25h x 34.5w in (89.54h x 87.63w cm)
Steel City I (1973)
Acrylic on canvas
60h x 71.5w in (152.4h x 181.61w cm)
Steel City I (1973)
Acrylic on canvas
60h x 71.5w in (152.4h x 181.61w cm)
The Blue Parrot (1973)
Acrylic on canvas
83.63h x 71.75w in (212.42h x 182.25w cm)
The Blue Parrot (1973)
Acrylic on canvas
83.63h x 71.75w in (212.42h x 182.25w cm)
April’s Shark (1974)
Acrylic on canvas
72h x 52w in (182.88h x 132.08w cm)
April’s Shark (1974)
Acrylic on canvas
72h x 52w in (182.88h x 132.08w cm)
Black Table Setting (Homage to Duke Ellington) (1974)
Acrylic on canvas
72h x 60w in (182.88h x 152.4w cm)
Black Table Setting (Homage to Duke Ellington) (1974)
Acrylic on canvas
72h x 60w in (182.88h x 152.4w cm)
Chinese Sincerity (1974)
Acrylic on canvas
67.5h x 40w in (171.45h x 101.6w cm)
Chinese Sincerity (1974)
Acrylic on canvas
67.5h x 40w in (171.45h x 101.6w cm)
Delacroix’s Palette (1974)
Acrylic on canvas
72.5h x 57w in (184.15h x 144.78w cm)
Delacroix’s Palette (1974)
Acrylic on canvas
72.5h x 57w in (184.15h x 144.78w cm)
Hall’s Cafe (1974)
Acrylic on canvas
67.5h x 40w in (171.45h x 101.6w cm)
Hall’s Cafe (1974)
Acrylic on canvas
67.5h x 40w in (171.45h x 101.6w cm)
Siberian Salt Grinder (1974)
Acrylic on canvas
80h x 50w in (203.2h x 127w cm)
Siberian Salt Grinder (1974)
Acrylic on canvas
80h x 50w in (203.2h x 127w cm)
Sorcerer’s Apprentice (1974)
Acrylic on canvas
88.25h x 50.5w in (224.16h x 128.27w cm)
Sorcerer’s Apprentice (1974)
Acrylic on canvas
88.25h x 50.5w in (224.16h x 128.27w cm)
Prime Mover (1974)
Acrylic on canvas
54.25h x 75.25w in (137.8h x 191.14w cm)
Prime Mover (1974)
Acrylic on canvas
54.25h x 75.25w in (137.8h x 191.14w cm)
Alpha Group I (1975)
Acrylic on canvas
42h x 42w in (106.68h x 106.68w cm)
Alpha Group I (1975)
Acrylic on canvas
42h x 42w in (106.68h x 106.68w cm)
Gamma Group I (1975)
Acrylic on canvas
83.75h x 72w in (212.73h x 182.88w cm)
Gamma Group I (1975)
Acrylic on canvas
83.75h x 72w in (212.73h x 182.88w cm)
Theta Group I (1976)
Acrylic on canvas
47.25h x 70.25w in (120.02h x 178.44w cm)
Theta Group I (1976)
Acrylic on canvas
47.25h x 70.25w in (120.02h x 178.44w cm)
Lambda I (1977)
Acrylic on canvas
83.5h x 72w in (212.09h x 182.88w cm)
Lambda I (1977)
Acrylic on canvas
83.5h x 72w in (212.09h x 182.88w cm)
Nee I (1977)
Acrylic on canvas
64h x 64w in (162.56h x 162.56w cm)
Nee I (1977)
Acrylic on canvas
64h x 64w in (162.56h x 162.56w cm)
Omikron I  (1977)
Acrylic on canvas
52h x 64w in (132.08h x 162.56w cm)
Omikron I (1977)
Acrylic on canvas
52h x 64w in (132.08h x 162.56w cm)
Rho I (1977)
Acrylic on canvas
72h x 84w in (182.88h x 213.36w cm)
Rho I (1977)
Acrylic on canvas
72h x 84w in (182.88h x 213.36w cm)
Sigma IV (1977–1978)
Acrylic on canvas
64h x 63.5w in (162.56h x 161.29w cm)
Sigma IV (1977–1978)
Acrylic on canvas
64h x 63.5w in (162.56h x 161.29w cm)
Khee II (1978)
Acrylic on canvas
72h x 84w in (182.88h x 213.36w cm)
Khee II (1978)
Acrylic on canvas
72h x 84w in (182.88h x 213.36w cm)
Omega I (1978)
Acrylic on canvas
63.25h x 51.25w in (160.66h x 130.18w cm)
Omega I (1978)
Acrylic on canvas
63.25h x 51.25w in (160.66h x 130.18w cm)
Taf II (1978)
Acrylic on canvas
40.13h x 68.13w in (101.93h x 173.05w cm)
Taf II (1978)
Acrylic on canvas
40.13h x 68.13w in (101.93h x 173.05w cm)
DNA (1979)
Acrylic on canvas
42h x 42w in (106.68h x 106.68w cm)
DNA (1979)
Acrylic on canvas
42h x 42w in (106.68h x 106.68w cm)
Eta Group II (1979)
Acrylic on canvas
63.5h x 63.5w in (161.29h x 161.29w cm)
Eta Group II (1979)
Acrylic on canvas
63.5h x 63.5w in (161.29h x 161.29w cm)
Holding Pattern (1979)
Acrylic on canvas
42h x 42w in (106.68h x 106.68w cm)
Holding Pattern (1979)
Acrylic on canvas
42h x 42w in (106.68h x 106.68w cm)
Persian Echo I (1979)
Acrylic on canvas
22h x 22w in (55.88h x 55.88w cm)
Persian Echo I (1979)
Acrylic on canvas
22h x 22w in (55.88h x 55.88w cm)

About this Series / Project

Jack Whitten
Paintings
1970s

From the figural abstraction Whitten developed in the 1960s, thematically inspired by the Civil Rights protests and formally influenced by Abstract Expressionism, the artist turned to formal experimentation in the early 1970s. During this time he began investigating a new method that would replace the habitual gestural movement of his wrist. The 1970s became a pivotal moment for Whitten, marking the beginning of his life-long desire to expand the limits of painting through aesthetic and technical experimentation. His work in this decade resonates more closely with photography: the paint and canvas were “processed” as he swiftly ran squeegees, rakes, and Afro combs over layers of paint. In 1970, he constructed a twelve-foot metal tool he named the “developer” that raked across the surface of the canvas, which would lie on the floor or a drawing board. Underneath the canvas, he placed objects such as wire, sheet metal, and pebbles, which interrupted the otherwise smooth movement of the tools, causing abrupt spasms of paint or reliefs of the objects’ shapes. This process, through Whitten "captured" the developer's action enacted on the canvas and distilled it as a single image, was an exploration of the effect of speed on paint and canvas, and yields palpable surface texture, line, and void. As noted by Professor Kellie Jones in EyeMinded: Living and Writing Contemporary Art (2011), when Whitten laid the canvas directly on the floor, it was not an overt homage to Jackson Pollock, but rather a reference to the work of the tile-setters he observed when he worked in construction during his first years in New York.

For Whitten, abstraction is never far removed from the social and political. The process behind his 1970s paintings enabled him to work though his deep reactions to the turmoil surrounding the Civil Rights Movement. Additionally, the linear quality of the work allowed him to meditate on the geographical demarcation of the Western world and diasporic movement, themes to which he returns later in his career. He was also able to create a field of paint, related to what he described as the “sheets of sound” produced by jazz musicians.

Artist Info