In Memorium

Jack Whitten (1939 – 2018)

The celebrated abstract painter died on January 20 at age 78.

Jack Whitten (1939 – 2018)


The African American painter and sculptor Jack Whitten who’s known for his relentless experimentation passed away on 20 January 2018. At 78 years of Age Whitten who had been largely unrepresented in the art world was finally gaining the recognition he deserved. Over the past few years institutions like the MoMa and the Walker Art Center acquired some of his work and he was featured in the Whitney’s inaugural show America Is Hard to See at its new venue.

Jack Whitten, “Dead Reckoning I,” 1980. Courtesy Studio Museum, Harlem NY and Hauser & Wirth.

His unconventional style was immortalized in his Slab works. In this series which started in the early 1970s, the artist devised a process in which he would lay the canvas on the ground, drag a tool across to mix his color, and simply let the paint dry. The layers of paint were often think with all tones left visible, and together with the abstract geometries they resemble abstract photographs.

Jack Whitten, “Apps For Obama,” 2011 (acrylic on hollow core door). © Jack Whitten.  Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

“He was a remarkable man,” Marc Payot, a partner and vice president at his gallery Hauser & Wirth, said in a statement. “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.”




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