RIP: Jack Whitten, Abstract Painter and Relentless Innovator, Passes Away at 78

January 22nd, 2018

Jack Whitten, The First Portal (2015)
Jack Whitten, The First Portal (2015), via Osman Can Yerebakan for Art Observed

Artist Jack Whitten, a pioneering painter whose exploration with formalism and abstraction made him an instrumental voice in the landscape of post-war abstraction and the history of American modern art, has passed away at the age of 78. The news was confirmed by his gallery, Hauser & Wirth.

“It is with great sadness that we confirm the passing of Jack Whitten,” said Marc Payot, a partner and vice president at the gallery, said in a statement. “He was a remarkable man—an artist of endless inventiveness, originality, and honesty, as well as a wonderful friend. His intelligence, compassion, and love for life have influenced all of us who knew and worked with him. Our hearts are with Jack’s family at this time.”

Jack Whitten, via Art News
Jack Whitten, via Art News

Whitten worked throughout the post-war years, pioneering an often experimental and process-based practice that moved from technique to technique and style to style, perhaps most famously embarking on a body of works mimicking mosaic-style tile-work through the assemblage of various small blocks of paint on the surface of the canvas.   “There’s no destination, it’s only the journey,” he is stated to have said of his work.

Jack Whitten, Shark, via Art News
Jack Whitten, Shark (1974), via Art News

— D. Creahan

Read more:
Jack Whitten, Beloved Painter of Abstract Cosmologies, Dies at 78 [Art News]