Stanley Whitney at Gagosian, Rome

Installation view, Stanley Whitney at Gagosian, Rome
Installation view, Stanley Whitney at Gagosian, Rome
Installation view, Stanley Whitney at Gagosian, Rome
Installation view, Stanley Whitney at Gagosian, Rome

 

Stanley Whitney, In Memory of Tomorrow, 2020, oil on linen, 96 x 96 inches (243.8 x 243.8 cm)
Stanley Whitney, Roma 20, 2020, oil on linen, 24 x 24 inches (61 x 61 cm)
Stanley Whitney, Stay Song 73, 2020, oil on linen, 40 x 40 inches (101.6 x 101.6 cm)
Stanley Whitney, That’s Rome, 2019, oil in linen, 96 x 96 inches (243.8 x 243.8)
Stanley Whitney, How to Speak to Trees, 2019, oil in linen, 96 x 96 inches (243.8 x 243.8)
Stanley Whitney, A Million Midnights, 2019, oil in linen, 96 x 96 inches (243.8 x 243.8)
Stanley Whitney, Bertacca 2, 2019, oil in linen, 72 x 72 inches (182.9 x 182.9 cm)
Stanley Whitney, Untitled, 2018, oil in linen, 12 x 12 inches (30.5 x 30.5 cm)
Stanley Whitney, Bertacca 4, 2019, oil in linen,72 x 72 inches (182.9 x 182.9 cm)

Stanley Whitney at Gagosian, Rome

Sep 10 to Oct 17, 2020

All images courtesy of the Gallery and the artist

Whitney’s vibrant abstract paintings unlock the linear structure of the grid, imbuing it with new and unexpected cadences of color, rhythm, and space. Deriving inspiration from sources as diverse as Piet Mondrian, free jazz, and American quilt making, Whitney composes with blocks and bars that articulate a chromatic call-and-response within the bounds of each canvas.

Whitney has spent decades experimenting with the seemingly limitless potential of a single compositional method, loosely dividing square canvases into multiple registers. The thinly applied oil paint retains his active brushwork and allows for a degree of transparency and tension at the borders between each rectilinear parcel of vivid color. In varying canvas sizes, he explores the shifting effects of his freehand geometries at both intimate and grand scales as he deftly lays down successive blocks of paint, heeding the call of each color.

Although Whitney has been deeply invested in chromatic experimentation throughout his career, he consolidated his distinctive approach during a formative trip to Italy in 1992, shifting his compositions from untethered amorphous forms to the denser stacked arrangements that characterize his mature style. It was Roman art and architecture—including the imposing facades of the Colosseum and the Palazzo Farnese and the stacked shelves of funerary urns on display at the National Etruscan Museum—that informed Whitney’s nuanced understanding of the relationship between color and geometry.

Italy remains a central and enduring source of inspiration for Whitney, who spends his summers painting at his studio near Parma. When working there, he adapts his palette to the surrounding history, permitting muted colors—rounded beiges and browns, and Pompeiian red—to assume prominence in his rich and varied compositions. These warm hues appear in full force in Bertacca 2 (2019), one of three large canvases included in this exhibition that Whitney painted in Italy. Here, he re-creates the shade of vermilion featured throughout the Boscoreale frescoes at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, transposing this jewellike tone onto canvas in dense strips and lozenges of paint, then directly juxtaposing it against the cardinal red that he developed in the United States. Thus Whitney’s intercultural chromatic contrasts create a dynamic interplay of space and mass, bringing the rhythms of the classical past into conversation with the active present.

Stanley Whitney, Installation view, 2020. Courtesy Gagosian and the artist Photo: Matteo D’Eletto, M3 Studio

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The press release & the photographs are courtesy of the gallery and the artists. If you would like to submit your photo story or article, please email INFO@ARTEFUSE.COM.

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