The Art of Jack Whitten

THU, MAY 15, 2008 (1:08:22)

Abstract artist Jack Whitten paints a verbal picture of his memorial art, in talking with Stuart Horodner, curator of the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. For the past 40 years, New York-based painter Jack Whitten has created elaborately constructed abstract paintings, which are conceived to memorialize various cultural figures (artists, musicians, dancers, politicians, writers), family members, and tragic events that have shaped his life. Whitten has studied the historical impulses behind the honoring of the dead (in various cultures through time) and he has developed a contribution to the notion of abstraction and representation.

+ BIO: Jack Whitten

New York-based artist Jack Whitten’s experiments with painting date to the 1960s, when, inspired by Abstract Expressionism, he created dynamic works noted for their raucous colors and density of gesture, combined with topical content emotionally complex meditations on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Civil Rights Movement, and the Vietnam War. Whitten’s work was included in the 1969 and 1972 Whitney Annuals, the landmark 1971 exhibition, Contemporary Black Artists in America at the Whitney Museum, Energy/Experimentation: Black Artists and Abstraction 1964- 1980 at the Studio Museum in Harlem (2006); and High Times Hard Times: New York Painting 1967-1975, organized by Independent Curators International (2006). In Summer 2007, P.S.1 MoMA Center for Contemporary Art presented a solo exhibition, combining Whitten’s epic 2005 painting, 9/11 with paintings from the 1960s; The Atlanta Center for Contemporary.

+ BIO: Stuart Horodner

As an administrator, curator, writer and educator, Stuart Horodner operates in the space between artists and audiences, empowering all constituencies in the process. He makes lists and layouts, writes grants, gives lectures, and moderates panel discussions. He installs artworks in gallery spaces and defines or defends his intentions for doing so with precise and passionate language.

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