Breathless

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  • Condition Report

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  • Provenance

    Lisson Gallery, London
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    “The colour makes the structure,” he said. “I wanted a system that allowed me to lay colour down when I felt like it—I wanted nothing to get in my way. When I start these paintings, I have no idea what it’s going to be. I don’t start with a sketch or an idea. I start by laying as much colour down as I possibly can. Once I’ve laid it all out and see what I have, then I start to mentally engage and figure out what I think is working and what I don’t.” (The artist quoted in Aruna D’Souza, ‘The Colour Makes the Structure: Stanley Whitney Paints a Picture’, artnews.com, posted 30 May 2017.)

    Stanley Whitney is a true believer in the unification of colour and spatial experience. Since the mid-1970s, the artist’s characteristic colourful grids have represented his artistic philosophy. Breathless is a canvas solely dedicated to the manipulation of hues — Whitney provides the ultimate stage for colours to shine and speak for themselves. As noted by Lauren Haynes, “Whitney’s colours take on lives of their own. They evoke memory and nostalgia. This orange takes you back to your favourite childhood t-shirt; that blue reminds you of your grandmother’s kitchen. Whitney’s paintings remind us, on a universal scale, of the ability of colour to trigger feelings and sensations.” (Lauren Haynes, ‘Orange That Blue’, Stanley Whitney: Dance the Orange, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, 2015, p. 28).

    Whilst Whitney has been an active proponent of colour field painting since the 1970s, the artist has operated largely under the radar for much of his career. However, recent institutional attention has affirmed his historic importance within wider public consciousness: following his seminal solo exhibition, Dance the Orange at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York in 2015, Whitney was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2017.

    Whitney’s style of composing colours is greatly inspired by the structure of abstract architectural blocks. Profoundly influenced by ancient Egyptian architecture that he saw during a trip to the Mediterranean in the 1990s, Whitney’s admiration for the uniformity of the ancient pillars is reflected through his preference towards straight edges in his works. The incessant rectangular configuration in his compositions also worked as a perfect manifesto of the painter’s determination on creating an absolute ‘balanced’ space for colour within his canvases. On his choices of colour, the artists in an interview explains:
    “It’s all about the transitions between the colours—the blue shouldn’t get away from the orange. That has a lot to do with drawing and scale as much as it does with colour. The difficulty for me in making these paintings is, if you fall in love with this red, can you get out of that red so that everything equals out and there’s no beginning or no end to it all?” (The artist quoted in Aruna D’Souza, ‘The Colour Makes the Structure: Stanley Whitney Paints a Picture’, artnews.com, posted 30 May 2017.)

    Rendered in varied brushstrokes, the artist layers transparent swathes of colour so that a grounded red might ring out from underneath a tonally juxtaposed verdant green, creating a sense of chromatic balance within Breathless. This sense of equilibrium produced through the composition conveys a sense of rhythm and harmony reminiscent of Jazz music.

    Born in Philadelphia in 1946, Whitney relocated to New York City at the age of 22, and has played a critical role in the current discourse of abstract painting in the contemporary era. Today, Whitney’s paintings are collected in numerous public institutions around the globe, including: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Madazzino d’Arte Moderna, Rome and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

  • Catalogue Essay

    「顏色形成結構,」他說道,「我想要一個系統,可以讓我興緻一到就把顏色畫出來,我不希望有任何阻礙我的東西。我作畫時不會預知它將變成為什麼樣子,我並不畫草稿或者提前構思。我一開始就盡可能的畫多些顏色,當所有顏色都鋪陳出來了,我才開始用心思考,看哪些行得通,哪些行不通。」(藝術家之言,錄於 Aruna D’Souza,<顏色形成結構: 斯坦利・惠特尼繪畫>,《artnews.com》,2017年5月30日發表)

    斯坦利·惠特尼堅信顏色與空間體驗的統一性,從1970年代中開始,以其獨特的彩色網格代表其藝術思想。《屏息》便是一幅完全貢獻於色調運用的作品,惠特尼給予顏色最純粹的舞台,彰顯並表達自己。如 Lauren Haynes 所講:「惠特尼的顏色有著自己的生命,它們喚起回憶和緬懷。橙色帶你回到兒時最愛的T恤,藍色讓你想起祖母的廚房。惠特尼的繪畫以廣泛的規模提醒著我們,顏色觸動感覺和情感的能力。」(Lauren Haynes,<橘色那藍>,斯坦利·惠特尼,「舞動橘色」,哈林畫室博物館,紐約,2015年,28頁)

    惠特尼從1970年代開始就是色域繪畫的積極擁護者,其藝術也以此風格最為人所知。不過,近期學術關注已經肯定了他在更廣範圍的歷史重要性,繼其2015年於紐約哈林畫室博物館的重要個展「舞動橘色」之後,惠特尼於2017年獲頒美國藝術文學院之院士。

    惠特尼編排顏色的風格深受抽象建築群之結構影響。在1990年代的一次地中海旅程中,古希臘建築給予他許多啟發,古典柱子的整齊統一引發其靈感,這也反映在他作品的筆直邊緣。連貫的方形結構也是藝術家為了在畫面創造色彩的絕對「平衡」空間而做出的完美展現。關於其用色的選擇,藝術家在一次訪談中作出以下解釋:

    「一切都是顏色之間的轉變,藍色不應脫離橙色。這與素描、比例和顏色都同樣相關。作畫對我來說的難題是,如果你愛上一種紅色,你能不能走出那種紅色,讓所有都保持平衡,沒有開始也沒有結尾?」(藝術家之言,錄於 Aruna D’Souza,<顏色形成結構: 斯坦利・惠特尼繪畫>,《artnews.com》,2017年5月30日發表)

    此作畫面筆觸多元,藝術家以半透明的顏色分層畫上,所以表面鮮艷的綠色底下可能其實是扎實的紅色,在《屏息》中營造色彩的平衡。這種通過構圖帶來的平衡傳遞著韻律與和諧,與爵士樂不無相通之處。

    惠特尼1946年在費城出生,22歲移居紐約,在當代藝術的抽象繪畫巨流中扮演著重要角色。如今,惠特尼的畫作已被納入世界各地知名公眾機構收藏,包括:紐約大都會藝術博物館、渥太華加拿大國家美術館、羅馬現代藝術中心和紐約惠特尼美國藝術博物館。

  • Artist Bio

    Stanley Whitney

    American • 1946

    Inspired by Renaissance painting, Minimalist sculpture and jazz music, Stanley Whitney’s oeuvre has become central to the current discourse of abstract painting in the contemporary era. Following recent solo exhibitions at the Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, the 72-year-old artist has only just received the critical acclaim he deserves. After moving to New York from Philadelphia at the age of 22, Whitney aligned himself with the Color Field painters, often working in the shadows of his contemporaries including Frank Stella and Kenneth Noland. Throughout the decades that followed, however, the artist soon established himself as a key player in 20th century abstraction, traveling the world and gaining recognition not only in the studio, but also in the classroom, where he has taught Painting and Drawing at the Tyler School of Art for over 30 years. As such, Whitney’s influence extends to a generation of new artists exploring the formal tenants of painting today.

    As Lauren Haynes, curator of Whitney’s solo show at the Studio Museum in 2015, aptly wrote, “Whitney’s work interrogates the connections among colors, how they lead to and away from one another, what memories they are associated with…Whitney’s colors take on lives of their own. They evoke memory and nostalgia. This orange takes you back to your favorite childhood t-shirt; that blue reminds you of your grandmother’s kitchen. Whitney’s paintings remind us, on a universal scale, of the ability of color to trigger feelings and sensations.”

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Breathless

2018
signed, titled and dated ' "Breathless" 2018, Stanley Whitney' on the reverse
oil on linen
183.1 x 183.1 cm. (72 1/8 x 72 1/8 in.)
Painted in 2018.

Estimate
HK$800,000 - 1,500,000 
€91,200-171,000
$103,000-192,000

Place Advance Bid

Contact Specialist
Isaure de Viel Castel
Head of Department, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 26 May 2019