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Jack Whitten: Five Decades of Painting

Exhibitions

Jack Whitten, Apps for Obama, 2011
Jack Whitten, Apps for Obama, 2011

Acrylic on hollow core door
84 x 91in. (213.4 x 231.1cm)
Collection of Danny First, Los Angeles
© 2015 Jack Whitten/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York
Jack Whitten, NY Battle Ground, 1967
Jack Whitten, NY Battle Ground, 1967

Oil on canvas
60 x 83 7/8in. (152.4 x 213.1cm)
Courtesy the artist, Alexander Gray Associates, New York; Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp
© 2015 Jack Whitten/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York
Jack Whitten, Apps for Obama, 2011
Jack Whitten, NY Battle Ground, 1967

Jack Whitten: Five Decades of Painting

May 16, 2015–Aug 2, 2015

This spring, join us to explore the groundbreaking work of African American artist Jack Whitten in the first career-spanning retrospective of his dynamic oeuvre. Featuring nearly 50 canvases, the exhibition traces the trajectory of Whitten’s restless formal experimentation from the mid-1960s to the present with paintings that, while abstract, often contain cultural, political, and social references.

Born and raised in Alabama, Whitten began painting in the 1960s, creating works that responded to a tumultuous political landscape that included the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and the work of Martin Luther King Jr. In the ensuing decades, Whitten’s shape-shifting style has transformed and evolved, encompassing abstract and highly textured canvases; paintings with surfaces “processed” by rakes, squeegees, and other tools; and mosaic-like, mixed-media compositions that incorporate paint compounds transformed into tiles. Today, Whitten continues to respond to current events and pay homage to friends and public figures in his highly personalized yet incredibly approachable manner of abstraction. Whitten’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New Museum, and MoMA PS1 in New York and The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT, as well as in the Wexner Center’s 2013 presentation of Blues for Smoke.

Jack Whitten: Five Decades of Painting is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and made possible by generous lead underwriting support from Dr. Paul Jacobs and corporate support from RBC Wealth Management.

Additional funding has been provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, LLWW Foundation, and proceeds from the 2014 Biennial Art Auction. Institutional support of MCASD is provided by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and the County of San Diego Community Enhancement Fund.

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