For five decades, Jack Whitten (b. 1939, Bessemer, AL) has kept time through his innovative studio process. In his canvases, he explores the possibilities of paint, the role of the artist, and the allure of material essence. As a child of the segregated south, he bears witness to expressions of evil and the resilience of the human spirit. As a diligent formalist, Whitten explores and exploits the newest acrylic and dry pigment media, the register of the image, and the edge of the canvas. As the New York artist, schooled in the sixties and maturing in the seventies, he balances on the fulcrum of the century that was and the century to come. He is an artist of his moment due precisely to his respect for the past and commitment to the present. Whitten creates in the moment in order to harness the essence of matter. From his first spectral canvases, as a graphic trace of a haunted soul, to his recent "Apps for Obama," a key for complex, contemporary life, Whitten’s poetic and physically compelling compositions capture what is needed, what is left, what is remembered, and what is next. Jack Whitten: Five Decades of Painting surveys this enduring artist’s career with approximately 60 canvasses from the mid-1960s to the present.
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 presenting corporate sponsorship from RBC Wealth Management. Additional funding has been provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, 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.