Stanley Whitney: How High the Moon


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The esteemed American painter Stanley Whitney has, for 50 years, created joyful, immersive abstractions characterized by a bold, experimental palette and unique rhythm. Over the last 20 years, he has structured his paintings as loose grids: a consistent framework that frees him to work through seemingly infinite painterly variations and allows viewers to focus not on each painting’s subject, but rather on our own response to color. These large-scale paintings are joined by improvisatory small paintings; drawings and prints, which constitute their own practice for Whitney; and the artist’s sketchbooks, which offer a view into Whitney’s engagement with the written word and politics.

This traveling North American exhibition is Whitney’s first museum survey, presenting 170 paintings and works on paper spanning from the 1970s to the present day. The catalog includes an introduction by exhibition organizer Cathleen Chaffee, scholarly explorations of the artist’s paintings and works on paper, a chronology and illustrations of all works in the exhibition.
Stanley Whitney was born in 1946 near Philadelphia. By the early 1970s, following studies with Philip Guston and Robert Reed, and influenced by artists including Jack Whitten, Josef Albers and Piet Mondrian, he had come to see “endless possibilities” in abstraction. Over the past five decades, he has honed a unique body of densely gridded, but endlessly variable, abstract paintings, as well as drawings and prints, reflecting his interests in art, architecture, textiles and music.