The 1970s marked a juncture in Jack Whitten’s painting career. In this decade, he rejected the gestural brushstrokes of Abstract Expressionism and embarked on what would become a sustained interest in experimental processes and materials. Opening at Dia Beacon this fall is the first-ever exhibition devoted to Whitten’s Greek Alphabet painting series of 1975–78. Whitten used the Greek alphabet as the organizational principle of this landmark yet long overlooked series, which consists of variations on abstract, black and white compositions and experiments in mark-making. For these works, the artist employed handmade tools and techniques including the comb, imprinting, and frottage. Bringing together nearly forty paintings from private and institutional lenders, this display offers unique insight into a pivotal moment in Whitten’s practice.
Jack Whitten is accompanied by a book of the same title published by Dia. The illustrated publication will feature scholarly essays alongside previously unpublished archival documents and writings by the artist.
Jack Whitten is curated by Donna De Salvo, senior adjunct curator for special projects, and Matilde Guidelli-Guidi, associate curator, with Zuna Maza, curatorial assistant.
All exhibitions at Dia are made possible by the Economou Exhibition Fund.
Jack Whitten is made possible by significant support from Susan and Larry Marx. Additional support provided by the Barrish Family, Laura and James DeMare, Goodman Taft, Green Family Art Foundation, Amy and John Griffin, Agnes Gund, Karyn Kohl, Sheila and Bill Lambert, Lebowitz-Aberly Family Foundation, Miyoung Lee and Neil Simpkins, Anthony Meier, Jacqueline Bradley and Clarence Otis, and Ilene and Michael Salcman.
The publication is made possible by major support from Hauser & Wirth and generous support from the Girlfriend Fund.
Jack Whitten was born in Bessemer, Alabama, in 1939. Whitten died in New York City in 2018.