Private Listing

Jack Whitten

Private Listing , 1992

Estimate $121,500 - $148,500
Added during invoicing: 10% LiveArt Fee and Shipping Costs from Delaware, USA
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About the artist

Jack Whitten

A pioneer of abstract art, Jack Whitten (1939-2018) was one of the most experimental artists of the 20th century, known for constantly pushing the physical boundaries of paint. Originally born in Alabama, Whitten moved to New York in the 1960s and forged his own aesthetic path centered on issues of process and technique after first associating himself with the New York school of abstract painters. While a revolutionary and influential artist, it was not until the last years of his life and even after his death that Whitten’s works were in high demand on the secondary market. His work now sells for six figures, frequently into seven, his auction record coming in 2019 with Special Checking. Originally estimated at $300,000-$500,000 USD, the work sold for $2.6 million USD, totaling five times the estimate. 

In the 1970s, Whitten created a new method of painting, produced from large amounts of paint being dragged across the canvas with tools including squeegees, rakes and Afro combs. In the 1980s, Whitten began to use paint as a metaphor for skin by “casting” acrylic paints and metal compounds to create experimental surfaces and textures. In these works he emphasized gesture and materiality, often incorporating elements evocative of sculpture and collage. In the 1990s, Whitten started to remove thick slabs of acrylic paint from its support and began to slice, cut and layer these tiles, bonding them to the canvas like mosaics. The titles of these works often allude to science, popular culture, ancient architecture and memorials of public figures as well as friends. 

It was only in the last years of Whitten’s life that he began to receive the recognition that he deserved. In 2014 the retrospective “Jack Whitten: Five Decades of Painting” opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego and refocused attention on Whitten’s historic contributions in the development of abstract art. His works are held in celebrated private and public collections including the  Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Tate London, among many others. Whitten was awarded a National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama in 2016. 

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